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Movies Eddie McMullen Jr. Review by
E.C.McMullen Jr.
Memento
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MEMENTO - 2002
Summit Entertainment / Newmarket
Ratings: Argentina, Spain: 13 / Australia: MA / Brazil, Germany, Netherlands: 16 / Finland: K-15 / France: U / Hong Kong: IIB / Mexico: C / New Zealand: R16 / Norway, Sweden, UK: 15 / Singapore: PG (
CENSORED) / Switzerland:14 / USA: R

Have you ever had a childhood memory, crisp and clean and clear? Have you had such a memory and one day you talk about it to other people you remember who were there? Then, as everyone starts talking, you realize that their interpretation of that moment is different from yours. Sometimes the differences are insignificant. In fact, their recital of that time reawakens memories that float into the picture as puzzle pieces, if not completing the picture, then adding more depth to it.

But there are times when you have forgot so much of the memory, that with the passage of years, your mind has tried its best to fill in the gaps, just enough to make the picture complete. How detailed the fictionalized parts are depends entirely on your imagination, of course. When that happens, and you have that nostalgic remembrance with friends or family, you suddenly feel lost; because everyone's recollection is more complete than yours; is better fleshed out than yours; and you realize that your memory of that place and time is nearly a complete work of fiction. You lied to yourself without even knowing it. Perhaps logic dictated the lie. Where the gap was, it just seemed logical to attach memory A
with memory C
by what seemed to be the rational train of circumstance with the invented memory B.

Is that how it happened?

BACK UP -

Lenny (Guy Pearce: RAVENOUS) is looking at a poloroid photo of someone lying dead on the floor.

BACK UP -

Lenny just killed someone and took a photo of the body.

BACK UP -

Lenny is having an argument with someone who he believes is setting him up for a fall. This person may have even taken advantage of Lenny's condition to have him kill an innocent person.

BACK UP -

This is MEMENTO. Lenny is a man who, because of an accident, has a rare condition called Anterograde Amnesia: He has no short term memory. No matter what he experiences, after anywhere from five to ten minutes later, he will forget everything that happened the moment before.

This is MEMENTO. Lenny has a condition and he tells everyone about it. He tells them of his short term memory loss, not to be confused with amnesia, that makes it impossible for him to remember anyone he meets.

This is MEMENTO. Lenny knows that he will forget things very quickly, so he makes notes, by the thousands, and takes pictures of whatever he thinks is important at that moment. He holds these things as mementos to remind him of where he lives, who he knows, and most important, to find the man who raped and murdered his wife.

This is MEMENTO. Lenny was also attacked along with his wife (Jorja Fox: KILL-OFF, HAPPY HELL NIGHT, HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN [TV], C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation [TV]), his head was smashed against a mirror, then he fell, his unconscious head smacking against the hard tiled floor.

Lenny knows a guy named Teddy (Joe Pantoliano: THE FINAL TERROR, CONGO, THE MATRIX), who may or may not be Lenny's friend. The guy seems to want to watch out for Lenny, but Lenny also has a poloroid photograph of Teddy and written on the back, in Lenny's handwriting, is the warning DO NOT BELIEVE HIS LIES.

Lenny also knows a woman (Carrie-Anne Moss: TERRIFIED, THE MATRIX, LETHAL TENDER) who may or may not be his girlfriend. He has a poloroid photograph of her which he wrote on the back SHE LOST SOMEONE TOO. SHE WILL HELP YOU OUT OF PITY.

Lenny has a folder of notes and pockets full of more notes and photos. He is looking for a man named John G. and he knows this because tattooed on his chest are the words "John G. raped and murdered your wife."

He also has the tattoo, FIND HIM AND KILL HIM.

Lenny's condition does not let him forget his old memories prior to the attack. He remembers his life and everything else that led up to, and including, watching his wife being ...

MEMENTO is a spiraling thriller of utter brillance. Director/Screenwriter Christopher Nolan based his screenplay on his brother, Jonathon Nolan's, unpublished (at the time of production) story, MEMENTO MORI. It is told in reverse (not with people walking backwards of course, that is low-key cleverness trying to disguise itself as brillance). Each consecutive scene you see in MEMENTO is really the scene that happened just prior to what you've already watched. And unbelievably, it works. There is intricate thought taking place within the simplicity of each scene, because the mind blower, shell shocker of the film is what set everything in motion, not how the story was resolved.

This movie was released to art-house cinemas before going straight to video. It was never given a chance in major theaters because the distributor had no idea what they possessed. Now, only a year later, it is being recognized for the true film genius that it is. Pathetically, there are few good stories coming out in movies these days, regardless of their country of origin.

MEMENTO is a masterpiece.

5 Shriek Girls.

Shriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek GirlsShriek Girls
This review copyright 2003 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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