18 September 2007


Recently I bought the 2-disc Memento DVD and watched the movie in chronological order for the first time.  I don't buy many DVDs, but Memento is a nonlinear, twisty film that rewards multiple viewings.  It isn't hard to enjoy the first time as long as you're willing to watch intently and you don't mind feeling temporarily disoriented.  Leonard, the main character, has lost his ability to form new long-term memories, so the disorientation you feel from seeing many events in backwards order is much like his.  He doesn't remember much that's happened to him since the incident that caused his memory loss.  He doesn't know whom to trust, and he may not even be able to trust himself.

Many of Memento's plot points make more sense the second and third times you see it, and watching it in chronological order for the first time was even more enlightening than I expected.  Many minor details fell into place that I hadn't noticed at all before.  The big question that had never occurred to me is, What happens to Leonard next, after the first (chronologically last) scene of the movie?  I'd never thought to wonder about it before since you spend the whole movie figuring out how things got to that point; by the end of it, you've almost forgotten about the first scene and what immediately led up to it.

SPOILER WARNING.  Do not read further if you haven't seen the movie.  Go rent it!

My theory is that Natalie set him up by suggesting the abandoned building as a place to kill Teddy.  She found out the truth about Jimmy: she knew where he did his deals, so she'd probably look there when he went missing, and she knew Leonard had taken his car and his clothes.  I think she sends Leonard to the abandoned building and kills him there for revenge.

But what if Natalie never sees Leonard again, maybe because she sympathizes with him too much to kill him and sees him as too dangerous to try to keep using him?  Will Leonard again find a way to convince himself that he didn't just kill John G. and then get on someone else's trail?  How will he proceed without Teddy's "help"?  I love movies like this that make you think long after they're over.


The same director's earlier film Following was made for no more than a few thousand dollars but it's almost as effective as Memento as a brainy thiller.  I check it out from the Wash. U. library about every year and I have to watch it twice each time.  Its plot jumps around in time less regularly than Memento's, so you have to be at least as careful to pick up on clues such as different locations, clothing and even haircuts.  You may be surprised when you find out who's deceiving whom and how.  If you've seen Memento and liked it, don't miss Following.