Many might think they have a bad memory, but none as bad as Guy Pearce in this movie. He is stricken with a condition where he has no short-term memory and can’t remember anything for longer than 15 minutes or so. We see things entirely from his perspective throughout the film with all the forgetfulness of our main character. The way Christopher Nolan accomplishes this is by telling the entire story in the opposite order. It starts at the end, Pearce’s character, Leonard, has killed someone. The next scene is the scene before this where it shows why Lenny kills the person he does, and so on.
Memento shows us Lenny’s story all the way to the beginning. Though this might sound like the definition of an anticlimactic storyline, every scene reveals something we didn’t know and also asks more questions that we can’t figure out until the next scene begins. This goes on until the M. Night Shyamalan styled twist that will make you want to watch it again only to see it in a new perspective. And the best things about it is that there’s another story underneath, and you don’t quite know what really happened to Leonard unless you watch certain scenes frame by frame. So, while Leonard is trying to solve a mystery in real time, it’s showing us another mystery is reverse time, while there’s still a third mystery concerning Leonard’s past that we have to figure out by ourselves…or just look it up on YouTube after you finish the movie.
Truthfully, just the premise and editing makes this movie worth watching. Because it works backwards, it creates something completely unique. Movies don’t always go in order, many of Tarantino’s films are non-linear, but nothing quite like this has ever been made as successfully as this film is. Truthfully, if the movie was in order, it wouldn’t be nearly as interesting or entertaining. The acting is fine but nothing special, the story is mostly just a simple noir plot, the music and cinematography don’t particularly stand out, but showing the movie in this way makes it both interesting and entertaining. It gives us a film that’s totally unique and worth watching multiple times just so you can get the full story of it.
Why you should watch it before you die: It’s a movie not quite like any other and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie quite like this either before or since it came out. A truly original movie that was the start of Christopher Nolan’s directing career.
+7.5: entertaining movie with a unique style
+1: amazing editing
-0.5: some unnecessary scenes