Movie Review: ‘Memento’ told backward to give viewers a new perspective

Christopher Nolan’s second major film is arguably his best



The “Memento” viewing experience is as disorienting as the film itself, and it is worth every minute.

TESS DURAND, Evergreen copy chief

Have you ever watched a movie and thought to yourself, “This makes absolutely no sense, I have no idea what is happening!” If the answer is “no,” that is about to change.

The 2000 film “Memento” gives the audience an inside look into what life is like for someone with short-term memory loss. The film is told both in chronological and reverse-chronological order; the reverse scenes are in color and the chronological scenes are in black and white to help viewers differentiate them.

“Memento” switches back-and-forth between chronological and reverse-chronological scenes, only coming together at the very end. When you first start watching it you will probably get a blistering headache, but I promise it is worth it in the end.

If you are familiar with other works by director Christopher Nolan, you may have witnessed the mind-bending nonlinear structure he stylizes in movies such as “Inception,” which challenges the audience to use their brains.

“Memento” is one of Nolan’s first films, and in my opinion, his best. The structure of the film not only does a great job of simulating the protagonist’s experience but also compels viewers to figure out the plot as it goes.

The film follows Leonard Shelby, played by Guy Pearce, searching for the man that raped and murdered his wife. However, during his attempt to save his wife, he suffered a brain injury, causing him to have anterograde amnesia, meaning he cannot form any new memories subsequent to the murder.

The cool thing about “Memento” is the audience is just as confused as Leonard about what is happening. Essentially, every time the scene changes, he is in a new situation with no idea how he got there.

Because his memory resets about every 15 minutes, the only way he knows fragments of what happened, who he can trust and clues to find the killer are through messages he tattoos on himself, notes and Polaroid pictures.

I will say, you have to be in the right mood to watch “Memento;” you are going to have a headache and be constantly confused the majority of the time with only small glimpses of clarity. 

The entire time you watch it, you are basically trying to solve a puzzle with pieces that do not appear to fit together.

It is not until the twist in the final scene that it all comes together. The convoluted film with seemingly random details is tied together in a neat little bow, creating a fully cohesive story. Finally, you will have that “Ohhh, I get it!” moment.

It is undoubtedly one of the most unique films out there.

“Memento” is a work of art and even though the plot is a mind-bender, Nolan meticulously pulls it off. This neo-noir masterpiece will bewilder you but leave you satisfied in the end.

However, if you wish to watch a movie to just chill out and relax, I would recommend anything other than “Memento.” It definitely is not a movie I would casually put on.

But for those wanting a cerebral cinematic experience and a movie you have to engross yourself in completely, “Memento” is an exceptional watch.