Recently I found time to watch the cult classic Memento, directed by Christopher Nolan. Leonard Shelby is a former insurance investigator who, after being subject to a violent home invasion, has lost the ability to create new memories after the incident took place. Though his predicament may seem comedic - and at times it is - the premise of Memento is nowhere near as amusing as it sounds. Leonard, regardless of what he consistently refers to as his “condition,” attempts to find the man responsible for the rape and murder of his wife. This proves to be easier said than done, as he requires the use of mementos to remind himself just how much progress he is making in his investigation.
The most iconic and perhaps noted feature of the directing is the fact that there are two timelines: one occurring chronologically, and the other which is the opposite of linear, in which each scene ends with the beginning of the previous’. If that last sentence didn’t make sense to you, don’t worry- you’re not alone. Why would Nolan subject his audience to such mental torture? One theory is that to force us to sympathize with poor Leonard, who, now like us, has difficulty sorting the timeline of events. This completely unique method of storytelling is definitely initially confusing, especially if you begin watching without prior knowledge of it.
Memento includes voiceovers from our protagonist, which is completely warranted due to his confusing mental condition. In fact, it becomes apparent that these voiceovers make the movie one of few to actually enhance the viewing experience, rather than detract from the plot of the film. I enjoyed the small cast- there are only about 3 important characters, and they’re all amazing actors. Truly superb, consistent performances all around.
Luckily, this is a film with a lot of value in rewatching. I can’t wait to see it again- I know it’s going to be a totally different experience. I would highly recommend Memento to anyone, but if you’re going to enjoy it, you definitely need to devote to it all of your attention.