Memory is one of the most intriguing subjects the world has ever known – but it can also be one of the most terrifying when it starts to fail… This is what Memento is all about. When Leonard wakes up in a hotel room, the first thing he has to do is sort things out: how long has he been there? Is this his room? He struggles to answer many questions based on facts and not on his memory because Leonard suffers from short-memory loss. He can’t create new memories. The last thing he remembers is his wife being murdered.
However, the protagonist shouldn’t be underestimated. Driven by his passion to find the killer of his wife and take revenge, he creates a system. As the character quotes: ‘I have to believe in the world outside my mind.’ He takes notes, but since notes can be lost or mixed up, he comes up with a better idea. Every important piece of information or event is marked like a tattoo on his body, so that he never forgets his mission.
The story of Memento is smart and edgy, written by Jonathan and Christopher Nolan; it’s a story that moves backwards. It’s a constant flashback that gives an interesting approach to a captivating story. The tattoos and the photos taken by an old-fashioned Polaroid are two elements that show that Leonard isn’t just a random guy — but someone who is totally aware of his situation and his goal. The concept of this screenplay is undoubtedly the vehicle that drives the film forward.
The main character, Leonard is played by Guy Pearce, who manages to play his role convincing and powerfully. He seems to be lost and tired from time to time, but still motivated and eager to accomplish his mission. Leonard is one of the first characters with short-term memory loss that viewers have been introduced to. Before Dory in ‘Finding Nemo’ or Drew Barrymore in ‘50 First Dates’, where the condition was approached in a sweet way, Leonard presents the difficulties in a more paranoid, yet realistic way.
Christopher Nolan’s direction contributes a lot to create the necessary agony of the main character; his anxiety to remember where he is or what he is doing. In addition to this, the fact that the viewer is let into Leonard’s thoughts through use of voiceover effectively creates a more realistic point of view. The catch is that if you try to analyse too much or track down the mistakes or the inconsistency of it, you may lose the whole picture, the story…