Memento: ”Do I lie to myself to be happy?”’

Year: 2000
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Produced by Suzanne Todd and Jennifer Todd
Written by Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan
Cast: Guy Pearce,Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano,Mark Boone Junior,Stephen Tobolowsky,Harriet Sansom Harris,Callum Keith Rennie,Larry Holden and Jorja Fox

A vengeful man suffering from a special kind of memory loss searches for his wife’s killer.

Memento has more or less established Christopher Nolan as one of the most gifted directors of our time. Nolan’s unique narrative spin on this modern noir has earned its well earned countless accolades. Memento has put Nolan’s cinematic style on the map.

In Memento,Leonard Shelby is a man unable to form any memories that occur after the incident that sparked his memory loss in the first place. Leonard’s mental state is stuck in an odd limbo. His mental compass has no sense of time. Leonard’s mind is confined to the present. So, he must rely on impromptu photos and notes to keep him up to date. Leonard’s disorder is the pathway to Memento’s unorthodox storytelling flow. Which is a reverse chronology with intervals of odd flashbacks. Memento wholeheartedly embraces the whole subjectivity of Leonard’s mental state. The viewer and Leonard share a one to one flow of information during a first viewing. Nolan’s skillful direction should be commended. In his hands, a story that would have easily descended into an utter mess is able to remain coherent. Nolan avoids front loading exposition but prefers a steady stream of exposition.On a first viewing, Leonard’s mental state is the lens through which the truth arises. The mystery engulfs us as much as Leonard and the sensation of suspense is never lost. Who is friend or foe is always up for grabs? Leonard’s interactions always carry a hint of double meanings. Memento draws us in with its masterful blend of the psychological that intermingles well almost spontaneously with the inverted narrative. The further one mystery unravels and the further clues that arise, the deeper we travel to Leonard’s psyche. Introspection is inherent to almost every part of Memento’s design. The ultimate truth of Memento’s mystery is no different. Leonard has to reconcile himself with an ugly truth. Paradoxically, Leonard’s disability will make this personal reconciliation an impossibility. Unlike Leonard, we have the great fortune of knowing the ”big picture” behind Leonard’s tragedy.

Memento is Nolan’s psychological neo-noir that flips a simple revenge tale on its head by warping our vision of time and reality. The self-reflexive perspective on time of Memento is a powerful admonition of just how memory and time can shape our reality and identity.

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