Wednesday 20 July 2011
Devouring Films: Memento
So, anyway. Memento. Guy Pearce pretty much makes this film, carrying off the role of the man with no short term memory (Leonard) to great success, and with just the right amount of caginess, doubt, and desperate need to try and find something he can hold on to, while normal time just slips away from him. Other than Pearce, however, the man who really makes this movie is Christopher Nolan, genius director of Inception, and all round mind-blowing filmmaker. I suspect that, even if you didn't know before watching that Nolan was its director, you could probably have made a guess that he was by its end. This is not to say that it was at all predictable, or that Nolan just does the same things over and over again, but more that it's just so freaking suspenseful, and complex, but also sort of simple, that it's just amazing.
Am I making any sense? Maybe not. And, at first, this movie seems not to make sense (and, for God's sake, don't start watching it anywhere but the very beginning, because it will literally be indecipherable) but you quickly pick up on what it is very cleverly doing, and pick up on its rhythm. In the same way that, because Inception centred around such a complex idea, the plot was very straightforward and linear, the plot of Memento is also relatively straightforward, apart from the fact that it basically runs backwards, apart from the part of the story that is shown in black and white, which runs forward, and from the true beginning. I think I've just made that sound more confusing than it actually is when you watch it, but the point is this- because Leonard can't create new memories, the film could literally have each of its sections in any order because, let's face it, Leonard would be none the wiser as to the order in which each of these things happened. Nolan always resists doing this, because it would be far too confusing to the viewer, and his films would utterly lose their appeal. Which, let's face it, they really haven't yet (side note: I saw the trailer for The Dark Knight Rises today, and I'm already pretty excited about it! Just, you know, a YEAR to wait. Hmph).
So, basically, the plot of Memento- man tries to avenge his wife's death, man is hampered by his mental impairment, does man avenge his wife's death? Well, now that would be telling! I realise that I've been perhaps maddeningly vague about the plot of Memento, and that was deliberate- I really didn't know all that much about it before I started watching it, and I can't imagine a viewing experience of it better than my own- I just need you to take my word, just like Leonard needs to take everyone's word, that it's as awesome as I say it is. Also, when you do watch it, make sure you read the short story that's included on the disc (or was on the copy I had, anyway) because I like to think of it as a sort of precursor to the movie, the part that you don't see, and that Leonard doesn't remember anyway, where he was learning to live with his condition, and considering what the point was of living with it anyway. Also, this is how great this film is- you even get a book with the DVD!
If you get the opportunity, please do watch Memento, if it's on TV or if a friend, lover, or a cousin's friend's sister's boyfriend owns it, and revel in its mind exercising spectacularness. Just, definitely watch it from the beginning, pay close attention, and you'll soon get the hang of working backward's through a man's life. If at any point you think you're getting confused, just remember (haha) that you still have your memory, and that should make everything easier for you. And then come back and thank me for pointing you in the direction of such a compelling, interesting and utterly amazing film. I'll be here, waiting patiently.