Saturday, July 18, 2015
Review: Memento (2000)
My love affair with Memento extends all the way back to the year 2000, where Entertainment Weekly's review of it began with the headline "Cool So is Thriller This" and a rave review and an A+ ranking followed. I remember there was also a website, otnemem.com, that offered an extended glimpse into Leonard Shelby's universe through newspaper clippings and mysterious Polaroid photos. So hopefully you'll understand and forgive the slight bias. The movie is rad. I love it when style and content work together. Besides having a pretty kickass story, I don't think there is, currently, a better use of non-linear editing structure. Two different timelines run parallel, one running backward and one running forward (and sure, a third that takes place way before the movie began). At first they seem like independent moments in the main character's life, until slowly, creepily, they begin to share similarities. The approach is not only novel (as in Pulp Fiction, Following), but symbolic of Shelby's mental state. We are the main character, and what the hell were we doing two minutes ago? As the film goes on, the implications of Leonard Shelby's crusade become clearer. "How long have I been doing this? Is winning impossible?" It isn't easy to pull off the Oedipus ending, especially in a gimmicky small budget thriller, but goddamn does it ever. This makes the re-watches a markedly different experience. The first time is a roller coaster ride, every time afterwards is a depressing character study. We watch a man construct his own prison, his own hell, dutifully performing a job that he will never finish.