‘Memento’ Film Review: Meanings & Ending Explored

Christopher Nolan really tore up the timelines when making Memento, it’s style so unique that we are sucked into the story from the opening scene. Guy Pearce plays the protagonist Leonard, a sufferer of short time memory loss who is unable to create new memories after the death of his wife. The only way he can remember who he is, who everyone else is, is by notes, pictures, and tattoos that he has prepared as stimuli to help to explain what has happened to him. Yet the most jarring element of the film has to be the time sequence. Every ten minutes, or so, we jump back in time. We see, what Leonard has just forgotten. Does everything match up to what he now believes to be true? Are his notes all true? We slowly learn his fate in a way that just wouldn’t be right if everything was done in chronological order.

The time-shifts may seem annoying at the start, but it you can slowly become more accustomed to the sequences. You simply have to remember that the start of the scene will be how the next one ends! Confusing! I admittedly had to pause a few times to recollect what was going on. The sequence intermittently jumped to a separate time-frame, which was helpfully filmed in black and white, maybe a bit of a gimmick, but helpful in terms of keeping track of where you are within Leonard’s timeline. I have read the word ‘gimmick’ a lot in reviews I have seen online, but it is pulled off so well, I don’t see where anyone has any room for complaint. Perhaps they just couldn’t follow the scenes correctly. All I would recommend is to pay attention, it’ll be worth it come the end!

I am watching this film as part of my Revenge module, as this theme runs throughout the movie. However, the Revenge factor is made even more prominent by the memory loss factor of the film. Leonard believes that his last clear memory was the death of his wife, and thus his desire to find her killer, ‘John G’, is his one clear goal in life. He relives the desire for revenge every time his memory seems to reset. It seems the one constant in his life, as he can’t really remember anything else to do with his life.His thirst for revenge is both sad and persistent every time he re-remembers his goal, he must relive the same emotions and feelings, perhaps making the feeling of revenge more prominent. I don’t see how any other films on this module will follow this feeling of revenge so closely, although with Django Unchained on the way, I think Tarantino will give it a good go!

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