(It was tremendous murder, no witnesses just a Polaroid photo of a victim.)
Photography is loosing its sharpness and colors are fading out .Finally it is swallowed back by the camera. Face twisted in pain and dirty in blood once again is a face of living human being. Gun is moving away from a victims head. Time is going backward…
(Leonard is killing Teddy, his assistant, after coming to believe that he is the real killer of his wife.)
It is a first scene of a movie called “Memento” written and directed by Christopher Nolan, based on his Brother Jonathan's short story "Memento Mori". It’s not often when the film review is describing the first but also the last scene of the movie without letting away any of the plot secrets. Used before (Harold Pinter's "Betrayal", Atom Egoyan's "Exotica”, John Boorman's "Point Blank" and Steven Soderbergh's "The Limey") nonlinear narrative, this time works very well supporting the whole movie structure. The events order of this psychological noire-thriller is reviled to us backwards. It give us a better understanding of main characters situation, he suffers on a short memoir lose. Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) doesn’t want to give up, through the strict regime of information management and learning by repetition his life is dictated by notes, tattoos and photos. It all just for one thing, revenge for killing his wife. Miserable, pitiful life with no record of the past is complicated by people willing to use it for their one purpose or people willing to help him like Natalie played by Carrie Ann Moss (noire cliché : Fame fatale) and Teddy by Joe Pantoliano.
This film is unique and experimental by the way it’s edited. It’s made out of two different time streams cut and joined together in by Dody Dorn. One of them is in black and white when the other in colour.
Events in colour are shown to us backwards in unusual order, from the most recent one to the past. This way audience is put in position of Leonard Shelby, at least on the beginning of the story we know as much as he knows. We approach the problem on the same basis; the same rules apply to us with discovering what happened to his wife.
Although the opening scene is literally shown backwards every single sound effect is in fact a "normal" forward-played sound effect. No sound is actually played backwards. In a whole movie use of music is minimal what gives us emotional freedom.
Events from the beginning of the movie, towards the end change their mining. Allies turn into enemies, victims become persecutors. Leonard’s loneliness, who in hotel room is fighting with his disability, is shown in black and white convention. When he is trying to find a killer of his wife at one point image change into a colour, while we stepping into a “real time” stream. Past becomes present. Picasso said, 'We all know that art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realise truth.' The same with memoires, they are unreliable and only facts may help us with understanding the truth according to what Leonard says.
I highly recommend this movie. It is a bit complicated although the whole film makes a perfect sens on the end, lucky enough we are able to keep the record of just watched material. In my top 100 movies.