Memento (2000)

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Nolan Cook
The Broadside

If you are a fan of dark crime mysteries where you will be kept guessing throughout the film, then Memento is a perfect movie for you.

This movie is so good that it’s difficult to accurately do it justice. It’s directing, acting, and plot are all flawless. About the only minor complaint I have is the sound editing which is a very minor complaint. I would have preferred a larger, more inclusive soundtrack but that flaw is so utterly irrelevant compared to the genius that is this film.

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It’s American film noir at it’s finest. Film noir is French for “black film”, and with it’s black-and-white tones and plot that is always taut with intensity (both mental and physical), the film fits the definition of “film noir” perfectly.

Synopsis

The chronology of the film has two different timelines which are separated in sets of black-and-white sequences and color sequences. The black-and-white sections are told in chronological order, where Leonard converses with an unknown caller (in more than one way). The second set of sequences is in color which is the real time investigation of Leonard, which is not in chronological order, but instead played in reverse. This keeps the viewer always guessing, and gives a sense of what Leonard has to deal with daily. The viewer finds out that Leonard has anterograde amnesia, a neurological condition which prevents him from creating new memories. The most interesting part of this movie is that it really tries to make the movie from Leonard’s perspective so the chronological series of events is atypical to a normal movie.

The movie eventually ties it all up at the end of the movie, and it does so gracefully. There are no questions left to answer besides the one’s Leonard asks about his own life at the end of the film. His questions probe not only into his own difficult life, but shows us that our own lives are difficult. That we all produce answers to questions that are difficult to answer, even when the answers are not true. That making up answers is more comfortable than not having any.

A very entertaining and engrossing film. A must-see for mystery/crime drama fans.

Nolan cook can be reached at ncook@cocc.edu

1 COMMENT

  1. Before I start, don’t get me wrong, I love this film. There is no doubt in my mind that Nolan is a genius that has yet to make anything less than spectacular. What I would like to say, is that I have detected a few gross errors by the author of this article.

    First, one need not specify the fact that a film is “American film noir”. The film noir style is typically synonymous with American films, and should only be designated by country if it comes from anywhere but the United States. Even though the style has its root in the German expressionist films of the 1920’s and 30’s, film noir is distinctly American.

    Second, just because a film contains black-and-white cinematography and a “taught and tense plot” does not make it a film noir. The film noir canon of films are characterized with two major identifying marks: the use of offset camera angles and the unique chiaroscuro shading. Thus, a film noir is less of a genre and more of a style of filmaking.

    Finally, the grossest miscalculation of the entire article is to call this film a film noir at all. In fact, if you check your film history, film noir is only represented by a select few films of the 1940’s and 50’s. After those years, historians confirm that there is no new material within film noir. Everything past “Touch of Evil” in 1958 is farmed out to genres such as psychological thrillers, crime thrillers and dark melodramas. The closest one can hope to achieving a film noir from the 1960’s to the present is to be designated as a neo-noir. That is where Nolan’s “Memento” resides, along with other films like “Blade Runner” or “L.A. Confidential”.

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