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  • Writer's pictureMasoud Kazemi

Memento: A Mind-Bending Masterpiece

Memento, starring Guy Pearce, was released in 2000 and became Christopher Nolan's breakout film.


Memento is the second feature film of Christopher Nolan, who is mainly known now for his Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, and Interstellar. Memento is based on a short story written by his brother, Jonathan Nolan, about a man named Leonard who suffers from a condition that disables him from creating new memories after an accident. While Memento may be one of his earlier low-budget underrated movies, it’s the film that gave him his first breakthrough and is by far one of his best works.

Storyline And Directing

The film follows a man with anterograde amnesia, Leonard (played by Guy Pearce), who is searching for his wife's killer. His amnesia doesn't allow him to make new memories, so he forgets where he is and what he's doing every 15 minutes, making it extremely difficult for him to avenge his wife. This also leads him to be taken advantage of throughout the film by people he doesn't even remember. As the film progresses, it gets crazier and crazier, dropping the audience's jaws lower and lower.

By now, everyone knows how much Christopher Nolan likes the concept of time and anything related to it, for instance, memories. Excluding his Dark Knight Trilogy, in most of his other filmography, we can find a trace of time's concept, whether it is a blockbuster like Tenet or a smaller-budget picture like Memento. The film is exceptionally confusing and was one of the first mind-bending films audiences had ever seen. It began Nolan's arc to become one of the greatest and most mind-bending directors.

Acting And Cinematography

In most low-budget/indie films, the storyline or the acting must be astonishing to compensate for the lack of visuals/production. Memento features arguably one of the most extraordinary plots in modern cinematic history, but on top of that, it has exceptional acting. Leonard, the main character played by Guy Pearce, is highly complex. A lost amnesiac with touches of vengeance showcases a wide range of emotions from anger, to cluelessness, to denial, and Guy Pearce nails the performance. Carrie Ann Moss, who stars in the Matrix films, also delivers a powerful performance as a side character who has much to offer.

While the production and visuals are decent, the cinematography captivates the audience. Every shot and every scene builds up the suspenseful mood throughout the film. Additionally, the picture switches from color to black and white, and audiences only pick up halfway through the movie the significance of the color variation. Adding to that, you get a true masterpiece with high-tier editing and perfectly placed jump cuts.

Closing Critiques

Very few Indie movies can even be mentioned in the conversation of favorite films. Donnie Darko or Reservoir Dogs are up there. Still, Memento is one of if not the most incredible indie films ever. It’s ridiculous how good of a movie it is, with a budget of around 9 million dollars. The complex script, mind-bending plot, intense editing, and outstanding acting make Memento an absolute must-watch movie.

Raving Rating: 8.6

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