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Memento This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   While America as a whole has by no means perfected therecycling process, there is one industry that comes startlingly close. I speak,of course, of the American movie industry, where originality has been forsaken inthe wake of neon multiplex glows and summer blockbusters. Somewhere between tiredold concepts and remakes of classics, there had to be left, I thought, at leastone shred of ingenuity. So I turned my back on the bright lights of the cineplexand headed for an indie theater to see a movie I'd been anticipating for a longtime.

The title is simply "Memento," but the set-up is anythingbut simple. Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce of "L.A. Confidential") is aninsurance claims investigator who has lost his ability to make new memories sincewitnessing his wife's rape and murder. Although he cannot recall anything forlonger than a few minutes, he seeks to avenge his wife by killing her murderer,so he leaves himself a plethora of notes to help himself have a clue as to whatis going on.

Oh, yeah, and the story is told backward. The beginning is,chronologically speaking, the end and the end is the beginning, or if not TheBeginning, at least an earlier point in time.

The concept takes a bit ofgetting used to, but is understandable. The idea is that at the start of themovie we know as much as Leonard - that is, what we have just seen in the pastfew minutes. The movie plays out from there in short sequences where we learn acause for what we have just seen occur. The result is both an atmosphere ofsuspense and a startling study of cause and effect. Through the movie ourperception of secondary characters develops from our first (or is that last?)impression, but Leonard always sees them as if for the first time.

In hissearch for the killer, Leonard encounters a man named Teddy (Joe Pantoliano of"The Matrix"), who claims to be his friend. This claim is clearlydubious, which is the main problem with not being able to remember anything - whodo you trust?

From seedy motel owners renting you extra rooms, to drugdealers out to kill you, it can get quite confusing when you don't remember howyou got there. Leonard's internal dialogue offers a humorous commentary: findinghimself holding a near-empty bottle of liquor, he muses, "I don't feel drunk..."

Among the other characters permeating his life is Natalie(Carrie-Anne Moss of "The Matrix"), a waitress from a local bar whoalso claims to be helping Leonard, though her motives, too, are questionable.

Altogether intriguing, and far less confusing than it sounds,"Memento" is a bizarre "what if" scenario running full speedin reverse. The clever presentation, as well as the originality of the story,create a movie which delves into the human psyche and questions the very basis ofhuman identity - our memory. While certainly the subject matter and contortedformat are not for everyone, those with a willing and limber mind will find thisfilm immediately engaging, and never failing to keep them guessing what happenedlast.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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