ninth symphony films - movie reviews

MEMENTO (2001)

DIRECTOR  -  christopher nolan

RATED  -  r

GENRE  -  suspense

LENGTH  -  113 minutes

RELEASED  -  16 march 2001

DISTRIBUTOR  -  newmarket film group

OFFICIAL SITE  -  memento

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $5,000,000
memento - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from memento at

buy the dvd from memento at

a man, suffering from short-term memory loss, uses notes and tattoos to hunt down his wife's killer.

writer christopher nolan's white honda civic can be seen parked next to leonard shelby's jaguar at the motel.


picture from memento

picture from memento

picture from memento


two out of four possible stars

Starting out with a lot of creativity and pretty tortured cast, Memento eventually becomes a victim of its own lame story. The entire draw for this film is it's unique way of telling its story. The people in this story are of the usual "I'm in an independent movie so I have to suffer" variety. Though there are some credible performances in this film, most notably from the main character of "Leonard," played by Guy Pearce, it doesn't have a lot going for it story-wise. The whole reason to see this film is the way in which it's edited together.

And after that technique gets a little cliche by minute thirty, it's the only thing holding this film together. The backward progression of this film becomes a gimmick, trying to hide the fact that it's the only thing that makes this film tick. It also waits until minute seventy-five or so to throw anything interesting at you. Of course, after that revelation, the plot dies down again, really never giving the audience any more surprises. It's probably fortunate that the casting director hired Guy Pearce because his performance sometimes makes up for the lack of progression in the script. He is able to communicate much through his character, sometimes without any words.

A pretty talented guy in a normal movie, he is an interesting element to this film. If anything, his performance makes you care about what happens to this guy. He's a sympathetic person, for most of the film, and embodies his role very well. It's his performance, more than the film's subject and story, that's the part of this film worth not burning. It seems though that most of the work in this film went to editing it together. Seen as a whole, the film's story doesn't seem to have been created with any thought to the plot. It's pretty sub-standard and while the whole reverse order grabs you for a few scenes, because the story isn't that interesting, there's not enough to this film to keep you interested for the whole two hours.

After having seen it twice, I don't feel I'm missing anything. The story just doesn't have any kick. It almost seems to drag. Add to it that the whole mess seems more reminiscent of the drunken ramblings of a crazy man than a cohesive story. I guess that's what i keep coming back to. The story. Disguising itself as a type of modern film noir, memento attempts to create a movie that's supposed to leave you shivering in your seat by the time the credits role. But with so much attention paid to the way this movie was chopped up and thrown together, and the lack of work done on creating a story that would "make you think," the movie's point is on its interest level, rather than on its intellectual level. It's like the filmmakers wanted to show off.

Look what I can do with an Avid. But really, the story for this film more resembles the thin plot of a movie made by an eighteen year old film student than anything really professional. I can't say I was looking for faulkner here .... but really, what film, if any, have come along that deserves that distinction .... of course, the strange thing about this film is that I don't have any feelings toward it that are good or negative. It didn't really make an impression on me. I believe that this film has been so touted by critics that its underlying faults have been ignored and it's been turned into something more than it is.

It wasn't as if the cast was impeccable, or the plot was something able to hold the interest of anybody who was tired of the way this film was constructed. Perhaps what made the story for this film seem somewhat juvenile was the fact that the co-starring characters had so much dialogue that served no other purpose than getting a few elements of exposition across. Because of Guy Pearce's convenient malady (he's got no short term memory and cannot create new memories), the characters around him are forced to talk about and repeat the information that the audience, and guy's character, need to know.

Kind of like when a couple of Shakespearean actors are up on stage telling the audience about the scenery that only the characters can see, but that the audience needs to know about. There is more talk than do in this film. The film has many moments of dialogue, without the necessary amount of action to go with it to move the story along. The ramblings of Guy Pearce's character are supposed to hold you over until the end of this film and it just doesn't pan out.

Am I being too hard on this film? It is being touted as the most creative thing to be printed on celluloid since the discovery of sliced bread. It's got a lot to live up to and with more hype than success, it gets a little boring. If anything, go to this film to see a decent performance from Guy Pearce and a set of intriguing tattoos. And everything in this film isn't a failure. This film has one of the best opening shots of any movie that's come along in quite a while. It's too bad that the rest of the film doesn't measure up.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

content 2000 - - ninth symphony films - photographs newmarket film group 2001
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