Memento (2000): A Great Films review

Memento Movie Poster

There are films that cannot be better described than as game-changers. Films that take a bold risk in trying to present a story in a way that is fresh, exciting, and new. These films all rely on a solid script that creates a thrilling tale, remaining inventive and riveting as their events develop. They also require a skillful director who fully understands what it is he wants to accomplish whilst employing a distinctive method to bring his vision unto the silver screen. Memento is one of those revolutionary films. Told in reverse-order, Memento shook the world of cinema when it first premiered and remains one of the film industry’s most creatively told movies. Indeed, steered by a director at the top of his game, along with an outstanding screenplay and an excellent lead actor, how can Memento be anything but a great film?

Memento Cinematography 1

Memento is directed by the masterful hands of Christopher Nolan and stars Guy Pearce, Carrie-Ann Moss, and Joe Pantoliano. Its screenplay, written by Christopher Nolan as well, is based on his brother Jonathan Nolan’s short story “Memento Mori”. The film tells the story of a man who suffers from short-term memory loss and uses notes and tattoos to track down the man he suspects to have brutally killed his wife. Memento is a mystery-thriller motion picture that runs for almost two hours.

Guy Pearce as Leonard Shelby
Guy Pearce as Leonard Shelby

One of the chief reasons why Memento is heralded as one of cinema’s most magnificent showpieces is the outstanding acting of Guy Pearce. Playing the role of Leonard Shelby, Pearce is simply brilliant as the man suffering from short-term memory loss. Pearce’s excellent performance is evident from the very first scene in which his character Shelby, resorting to having a whole host of notes and tattoos on his body as reminders, desperately starts tracing the events that led to his wife’s violent death. This is such a natural and real performance from Guy Pearce that I truly applaud his outstanding talent in making us feel so in touch with Leonard Shelby’s struggles. There is no excessive or needless acting here. Instead, Pearce is pitch-perfect and truly believable as a man with a serious case of short-term memory loss. A superb performance by Guy Pearce.

Carrie-Ann Moss as Natalie (Left) & Memento Guy Pearce as Leonard Shelby (Right)
Carrie-Ann Moss as Natalie (Left) & Guy Pearce as Leonard Shelby (Right)

However, the people who deserve the most admiration for crafting such a fantastic film as Memento are the dynamic duo of Christopher and Jonathan Nolan. Beginning with the writing, the motion picture is a perfect example of sharp, focused, and intricate screenwriting. Christopher and Jonathan manage to construct a story unlike any other whilst maintaining a clear idea of where the story is going. Told in reverse order, Memento could have turned into a major disaster in terms of storytelling but the Nolan brothers aptly handle the events. I cannot compliment the writing in Memento enough. It simply is one of the smartest scripts I have ever come across in any motion picture. It remains a marvel in screenwriting that I seriously enjoy.

Guy Pearce as Leonard Shelby
Guy Pearce as Leonard Shelby

I also admire Christopher Nolan’s direction of Memento. Not only is the decision to present the film’s events in reverse order a genius one, it really makes the viewer quite stunned by how well it is executed. Even though Memento is Nolan’s second feature, he shows early signs of being able to keep the viewer guessing. Indeed, one easily is transfixed by the film’s events, unable to keep his eyes off the screen. One also cannot help but admire the director’s artistic choice of having both black & white and color scenes. That mix adds another layer of style that greatly compliments the film.

There is also his excellent supervision of the movie’s cast, especially Guy Pearce. Nolan simply brings out the best performances out of the acting talent at his disposal and I could not ask for more. It is yet another area in which Christopher Nolan demonstrates his superb skill in orchestrating a gripping motion picture. He is undoubtedly one of my all-time favorite directors.

Joe Pantoliano as Teddy Gammell
Joe Pantoliano as Teddy Gammell

I continue to be amazed by how well Christopher Nolan has crafted such a magnificent film as Memento. It still retains its cleverness and originality, proving that the reverse-order form he utilizes is no gimmick but an effective element of telling this mystery. In fact, this technique is a massive success as many films since have tried and failed to copy it. I admire how Nolan takes his brother’s story and Guy Pearce’s superb acting, combines them with his remarkable directorial talents, and produces a motion picture that is quite simply outstanding. Memento is certainly one of my favorite Christopher Nolan films that I will continue to watch time and time again, wondering how effortless it all seems to be. A remarkable film by one of cinema’s most exceptional directors.

Guy Pearce as Leonard Shelby
Guy Pearce as Leonard Shelby



Christopher Nolan

Outstanding performance:

  • Guy Pearce (as Leonard Shelby)


1 hour and 53 minutes




Mystery / Thriller