The 21st century is well upon us, but what can we say about the year 2001 specifically? Should it be considered the year of the Bush malfunctions? The year of some of the worst movies in decades? There still is a lot of time to be told before the official title can be named, but it is truth that even the best movies of the year have been nowhere near excellence... That is except for one shining gem, Memento.
L.A. Confidential star Guy Pearce stars as Leonard, a man who suffers from a form of short term amnesia, which means that he can remember his past quite clearly, but ever since a head injury, cannot remember recent things for more than a few minutes. His apparent friends are Teddy (The Matrix's Joe Pantoliano) and Natalie (The Matrix's Carrie-Anne Moss), although he only knows them throw a set of photographs that he carries around to remind him of useful facts. All three cast members turn in extremely good performances, especially Pearce, who just commands the screen. He knows when to be funny, when to be serious, and when to be whatever he needs to be.
Even more exceptional than the acting is the strange film presentation, which works in reverse chronological order. One scene will end where the previous scene starts off, and so the story unravels backwards, revealing more and more about the characters as it goes on. It is amazing how the director and screenwriter were able to do this, because at some points the movie becomes very confusing due to the fact that you have to make guesses about what happened earlier. It is very impressive that Memento came out nearly flawless.
Memento is memorable in itself but all of it would be to waste without a skillful ending. Thankfully, Memento has a well done ending that is for the most part unpredictable and at the same time well crafted. When I went to sleep a few hours after finishing the movie, I was still shocked by the events that unfold on the screen.
In a world of drab movies, Memento is a nice sigh of relief. It is also one of the best movies to hit theaters in years, and so far is my nominee for Best Picture.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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