22/11/2013

First Watch: Memento

Director: Christopher Nolan
Screenplay by: Christopher Nolan
Release date: October 20th, 2000
Recommended by: @MikeLeMarechal

There are a select group of Nolan superfans who love The Dark Knight trilogy but are adamant his best film is 2006's The Prestige, and they're probably right. But then there are a quieter but just as dedicated bunch who fly the flag for Memento; the feature film adapted from Jonathan Nolan's short story 'Memento Mori' that earned two Oscar nominations and officially introduced the then-30-year-old Christopher Nolan as "the next big thing" in filmmaking. 

So, with over a decade of hindsight and consistent success, how does Memento match up? Well first of all, if you're one of the people who had trouble keeping up with Inception you probably shouldn't bother with this. While not necessarily hard to keep up with, your (or maybe just mine) mind isn't designed to process things backwards and knowing how the film ends in the first 10 minutes was just odd. Imagine trying to read a book from the back and training your eyes to go right to left and that's roundabout how it feels to sit through the first act of this just with more shots of a topless Guy Pearce.
Pictured above: Guy Pearce, topless

But it's narrative structure - or gimmick, depending where you stand - is what makes it so compelling; most thrillers are about finding out who the killer is but this shows you immediately so it's about what lead up to that moment, and that's pretty refreshing. Add in the themes of loss, revenge and memory, it's a very gripping film indeed. It's no The Prestige, but it's pretty damn good.