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Scott Ventura >> Movie Commentary >> June 2001 >> Memento


Movie Commentary by Scott Ventura


Scott's Rating:
5 / 5
Times Seen:
Viewing Date:
June 2001
IMDB Name:
Memento (2000)
Christopher Nolan
drama, mystery, suspense
MPAA Rating:
R for violence, language and some drug content.


Back in my trumpet-playing days, one of my teachers recommended learning pieces from the end to the beginning. You'd never know how you got where you were, but you'd always know where you were going. The intention was to approach the beginning of the piece with the whole in mind so that every measure in the middle would be performed in the way best suited to achieving the emotional climax at the end. Memento reminded me of that advice in a big way. With respect to the story's primary timeline, the scenes are presented in reverse order. The movie is constantly adding backstory in support of the scenes that have already been seen. This is a terrific approach to immersing the audience in the protagonist's mindset, since we don't know how he got there, either. The story, adapted by director Christopher Nolan from a story by Jonathan Nolan, uses this trick magnificently. Most impressively, the movie leaves boatloads of loose ends open for speculation while staying overwhelmingly internally consistent. There are real elements of suspense and mystery because the characters and approach are so novel. As if this isn't interesting enough, there's even more backstory interleaved in normal chronological order with a contrasting visual style. The editing by Dody Dorn keeps things remarkably easy to understand.

Memento's casting is excellent. Joe Pantoliano was already one of my favorite actors for his work in Bound and The Matrix. He undergoes yet another radical appearance change, creating another exciting character. Carrie-Ann Moss, finally playing an evil character, gets to do more acting than in Matrix and Red Planet combined! Guy Pearce does an excellent job as the movie's anchor, providing an appropriate blend of confusion, determination, and intelligence. Stephen Tobolowsky and Harriet Samson Harris make a lot of their small roles as the ill-fated Sammy and Mrs. Jankis in the parallel timeline.

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Copyright 2001-2002 by Scott Ventura. All rights reserved.