Also recommended:
WHAT LIES BENEATH (Film of the Month)
other October releases

From November 2000
Film Review

Film Review Hotline
MEMENTO
5 Stars

Some women just can't help acting on impulse...
Time's Arrow

STARS: Guy Pearce
Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano

DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan
SCREENPLAY: Christopher Nolan
CERTIFICATE: 15DISTRIBUTOR and Picture copyright: Pathé
RUNNING TIME: 1hr 56 mins
OPENING DATE (UK): October 20

A truly, uniquely original movie that should reap British writer-director Nolan the acclaim he already deserves, Memento is a challenging thriller that only a fool would miss.

A companion piece to his little-seen (but wonderful) black-and-white début, Following, Nolan’s sophomore effort tells the story of Leonard Shelby (Pearce), a man with severe short-term memory loss who is trying to discover who raped and murdered his wife. Unable to make new memory connections since witnessing this tragic event, all of Shelby’s evidence is collected on scraps of paper, Polaroids and a bizarre array of ‘forget-me-not’ tattoos on his body. But what makes this darkly funny premise unique is that the story is told backwards.

From the opening shot – a reversed sequence of Shelby firing a bullet into the brain of his chief suspect Teddy (Pantoliano) – we know he has avenged himself. What Nolan is fascinated in is not so much who-dunnit, but how and why. Each scene takes us back a stage further, unfolding as a jigsaw puzzle that emulates Shelby’s own fractured memory.

While this may sound like a pointless exercise in structuralism, the subject of the fragility of memory comes further into play as the film progresses and we gather more clues.

All this is aided by a great performance from Pearce, the best we’ve seen from him since LA Confidential. Memento also gives rise to the first turn from Matrix star Carrie-Anne Moss since that film. As the duplicitous bartender Natalie, involved to some degree in Shelby’s quest, Moss shows that she has more to her than kung-fu expertise. Meanwhile, Joe Pantoliano, who featured with Moss in The Matrix, delivers yet another comfortingly slimy turn as Teddy.

Echoing Following in its non-linear approach to narrative, Memento is a brave attempt to entertain an audience without adopting the Hollywood line. Answers are not always forthcoming, and while this may irritate some, others will understand and appreciate Nolan’s work. Rest assured, this 30-year- old director is thankfully Britain’s reply to the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Paul Thomas Anderson.

James Mottram

Read our massive reviews section in this month's Film Review
Reviews © Visual Imagination Ltd 2000. Not for reproduction.

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Also reviewed online this month:
5 Stars; Excellent
WHAT LIES BENEATH (FILM OF THE MONTH) • released October 20

FULL DETAILS AND REVIEWS OF ALL THESE AND MORE IN THIS ISSUE

5 Stars; Excellent5 Stars; Excellent
This is Spinal Tapre-iss Oct 13

5 Stars; Excellent
Some Like it Hotre-iss Oct 20
In the Mood for Love • Oct 27

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Oct 13 • Girlfight
Oct 13 • House of Mirth
Oct 13 • Romeo Must Die
Oct 27 • I Could Read the Sky
Oct 27 • Rage