After seeing Inception this weekend, I had to finish my Christopher Nolan kick by delving into his first big hit, Memento (2000). Even ten years ago, Christopher Nolan was blowing audiences away with the backwards story of rape/murder/revenge that earned critical acclaim and propelled Nolan into the the “watch out for this guy” category. He’s everything M. Night Shyamalan wished he had turned out to be.
Memento starts out with the conclusion of the movie first, Leonard (Guy Pearce) killing the rapist and murderer of his wife. The thing about Leonard (don’t call him Lenny) is that he has a condition where he has absolutely no short term memory. Therefore he has to take notes, take pictures, and tattoo his body with things he had to remember. The movie unfolds backwards allowing the watcher to unravel the mystery of Leonard’s wife’s rape and murder while getting to know the back story of Leonard and how he got to this very situation. With the help of his new friend, Natalie (Carrie-Anne Moss), we’re thrust into a world of drugs and murder according to Nolan.
This type of story telling was, and still is, unique and in order to be done correctly, the writing has to be spot on. Guy Pearce was the perfect actor to get for the role of Leonard, as Nolan was looking for an established actor but not someone that was a “movie star.” Pearce established himself in L.A. Confidential holding his own against Russell Crowe and Memento was his first big movie where he was the star. He knocks the role out of the park which makes Nolan look even more like a genius for casting Pearce. Carrie-Anne Moss, in her first role after The Matrix provides the much needed edge persona to the film and compliments Pearce well.
If you’re looking for a great psychological-thriller but don’t want to fight the crowds at the theater, or pay $12 for a movie in the first place, check out Memento and see why Christopher Nolan is largely considered the best director in Hollywood today.