Christopher Nolan's Memento Essay

5013 Words21 Pages
Christopher Nolan's Memento June 15, 2001 was business as usual for the Hollywood. The usual string of expensive summer blockbusters were rolled out, with an array of commercial triumphs ("The Mummy Returns") and disappointments ("Pearl Harbor"). It was heartening to film fans that a classic sleeper could still find room in a marketplace filled with bloated extravaganzas nurtured by gray-suited Hollywood greedheads. Unbenost to the gray-suits, the per-screen average for writer/director Christopher Nolan's "Memento" -- a challenging art-house noir made for $5 million and released by a novice distributor -- was but $2 less than the per-screen average of "Pearl Harbor," a $200 million mediocrity, whose lavish, flag-wrapped premiere…show more content…
And there's no question that this is a film that encourages repeat business: That is, its puzzles are so intriguing and so impenetrable at first viewing that filmgoers are almost forced to go back for a second look if they want to figure out just what the hell was going on. "Memento" is like "The Sixth Sense" and "The Usual Suspects" in that nearly every scene takes on a different meaning once you know where the film is going. Or should that be "where the film has been"? Unlike "The Sixth Sense" and "The Usual Suspects" -- indeed, unlike almost every other celebrated "puzzle film" in cinematic history -- "Memento's" puzzle can't be undone with a simple declarative explanatory sentence. Its riddles are tangled up in a dizzying series of ways: by an elegant but brain-knotting structure; by an exceedingly unreliable narrator through part of the film; by a postmodern self-referentiality that, unlike most empty examples of the form, thoroughly underscores the film's sobering thematic meditations on memory, knowledge and grief; and by a number of red herrings and misleading clues that seem designed either to distract the audience or to hint at a deeper, second layer of puzzle at work -- or that may, on the other the other hand, simply suggest that, in some respects, the director bit off more than he could chew. All of the notices about the movie have told us that the story is told in reverse order. We hear that Leonard, played by Guy Pearce ("L.A. Confidential"),

More about Christopher Nolan's Memento Essay

Open Document