February 06, 2006


"So where are you? You're in some motel room. You just wake up and you're in...in a motel room. There's the key. It feels like maybe it's just the first time you've been there, but perhaps you've been there for a week, three months... It's....it's kind of hard to say. I don't...I don't know. It's just an anonymous room."

How is this for a scenario? A man breaks into your house in the middle of the night. He rapes and kills your wife and leaves you with brain injuries. Furious, you pledge your life to track down and kill whoever is responsible. There is just one problem - after the head injury, you are no longer capable of creating new memories; everything before the accident is crystal clear, but now you cannot remember anything new for more than a few minutes.

The main character, Leonard, tries to manage his life and his quest by taking Polaroid pictures of the people he meets, scratching notes on them as to what their relationships are and if they can be trusted or not. In order to not lose track of the most important details of his quest, he tattoos notes all over his body consisting of things such as "John G raped and killed your wife." and license plate numbers.

Ponder this: What happens to guilt if you cannot remember what you did? How can a person have emotions if he does not know where they came from? How can we learn from our experiences if we cannot remember them? What is the purpose of revenge if someone cannot recollect or prosper from it?

Memento is the most thought-provoking film I have seen in a long time. It is unusually absorbing and places you quite effectively in the main character's shoes. How can we be in the same mental status with the main character when he cannot remember anything? The story is told backwards. Each individual scene plays running forward, often overlapping, so you really have to pay attention.

One thing that struck me hardest about this film was the manner in which the other characters take advantage of Leonard's disability. They lie to him and manipulate him into doing their bidding, and you never exactly know for sure who they are or if they are on his side or betraying him. There is another character in Leonard's memory from before the attack that, later in the film, you think may actually be Leonard himself.

Memento is a unique mystery thriller. It demands that the viewer follow along, participate, and fit puzzle pieces together. It doesn't provide any easy or obvious answers. Hell, even the DVD menus are perplexing and mysterious.

After watching it on Saturday, Chris and I found ourselves discussing it for the rest of the weekend, comparing theories and ideas about the details. We rented it on the recommendation of a friend, whom I need to thank. I was surprised at how old it is (filmed in 2000) because I had never heard of it, but I'm glad we discovered it nonetheless. I think it's one we'll be adding to our collection.


  1. Memento is a good movie!

    If you like that, may I suggest the movie 'Pi' or even 'Mullholland's Drive'

    Similar cool thinking movies.

  2. I heard there's a re-cut DVD that shows the scenes in chronological order, instead of reverse. Have you heard about that?

  3. Pup - I'll check those out!

    Jack - Yes, I have. I'm told it's on disc two and you get to it by scrolling to biographies and push the right arrow. I'll try it tonight.

  4. Sounds like another good movie I missed ;)

  5. Holy jackrabbits YEAH that's a good movie!! Haven't seen 'Pi' but Pup's right: 'Mulholland Drive' is another brain twist.

  6. i LOVE that movie! and yeah, Muholland Drive is another good brain-twister. another one that's pretty interesting is The Butterfly Effect; it was suprisingly good. and then of course there's Donnie Darko...

  7. Denny - go rent it!

    Cootera - I'll be checking out both of those. I'm not surprised that you liked it. :)

    Sid - I've seen the Butterfly Effect - I liked that one, too. I'll have to put Donnie Darko on my list. thanks!

  8. Ah moses... Donnie Darko rocks my socks...

  9. I really need to see that movie!