Memento (Pathe/20th Century Fox Home Ent.): The classic 2000 thriller with an ingenious flashback structure about a man suffering from a memoray condition (Guy Pearce) trying to find out who killed his wife with the aid of a police officer (Joe Pantoliano) and a bartender (Carrie-Anne Moss) who may or may not be out to help him.
Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, it firmly established him as a major talent with its clever narrative structure: one happens in reverse chronological order whilst the other shows Leonard in a hotel room on the phone as he explains more about his condition.
Although on first viewing the structure can be disorientating, the effect puts us in the position of the protagonist and also – like much of Nolan’s work – repays repeated viewing.
But aside from the cleverness of the construction, the film isn’t just a technical exercise and is a compelling tale of death, grief memory and revenge.
For only his second feature, after the low budget noir Following (1998), it was filled with technical expertise. Wally Pfister‘s cinematography created a distinctive blanc-noir look, Dody Dorn‘s editing made the fractured narrative run smoothly and David Julyan’s synth-heavy score established a moving sense of loss.
It is easy to forget just how good the performances are: Guy Pearce is outstanding in the tricky lead role, painting a riveting portrait of a haunted man adrift in a sea information he can’t process; Carrie-Anne Moss is a convincing femme-fatale with a twist, whilst Joe Pantiolano is wonderfully smarmy as the cop who may or may not be trusted.
A major independent hit that crossed over into the mainstream, it firmly established Nolan as a talent to watch before he went on to bigger Hollywood blockbusters such as The Dark Knight (2008) and Inception (2010).
The special features on the Blu-ray include extras from previous DVD versions but add a few more (most notably the Anatomy of a Scene and the Memento Mori video):
- Audio Commentary by Christopher Nolan
- IFC Interview with Christopher Nolan
- Interview with Guy Pearce
- Anatomy of a Scene Featurette
- Shooting Script to Film Comparison
- Memento Mori video narrated by Writer Jonathan Nolan
- International Trailer
- Production Skills and Sketches
- Props Gallery
- International Poster Art
- Production Journal
- Tattoo Gallery
- Easter Egg: The Beginning of the End
It is notable how well the film still stands up ten years on, with Nolan’s attention to detail apparent in both the script and visuals.
A film almost designed for repeated viewing, despite a lot of articles purporting to explain the conclusion (e.g. this Salon article), there is something tantalising out of reach about the climactic revelations, as though Nolan wanted us to be like the central character: confused and grasping about small details.
Despite all of Nolan’s Hollywood success since, this remains his most fascinating film and ranks amongst the very best of the decade.
> Buy Memento on Blu-ray from Amazon UK
> Memento at the IMDb
> A long explanation of the film at Salon (Warning: Spoilers)