10 Memento

9 Sep

After another long hiatus, I am returning to the countdown of My 20 Favorite  Movies. Next on the docket is “Memento“, an early project for Christopher Nolan, who, at the time , was an unknown in Hollywood. This film got the critics buzzing about his tight directorial style and dizzying narrative.

Based on a short story by Christopher Nolan’s brother, Jonathan, “Memento” tells the story of Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce), who suffers from short-term memory loss and uses notes, photos and tattoos as clues to find the man he thinks killed his wife. His inability to form new memories make it nearly impossible to figure out who he can trust and  truth from lies.

The most noticeable feature of “Memento” is its original narrative style. There are two timelines playing out, one plays out backwards (as soon as one scene finishes it then shifts to the scene before it) and the other is a forward-moving narrative of Leonard’s explaining his story and condition to an unknown person on a telephone, and the two end up meeting eventually. The backwards narrative gives the viewer the feeling of Leonard’s condition, everything seems new and the viewer isn’t sure what they are seeing at first either, but once the two narratives collide everything makes sense and leaves the viewer stunned at the dark conclusion.

This is one of those films that changed my perceptions of the way to watch films and left me longing for something else original, instead of the typical and predictable narratives of most films out there. Once I had seen it, I knew I had to buy it and then watch it again and again. They also had a feature on the DVD which tells you how to arrange the scenes to watch an entirely forward-progressing narrative which, if you were unable to follow what exactly happened, is recommended for the second viewing.

Made on a $5 million dollar budget, it ended up grossing over $25 million, which was incredibly impressive for an independent film at the time. “Memento” was another landmark in independent filmmaking, paving the way for more trust in that area of the industry, that low-budget, well-thought out films, can make a substantial profit as well. It also ranks #29 on IMDB’s Top 250 highest rated movies.

This film is definitely worth viewing over and over again. I probably end up watching  this film about once a year, even after I watched it several times when it first came out on DVD. I don’t get tired of watching this one, especially when I can watch it with someone who hasn’t seen it and watch the expression on their faces at the end.

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