Ducking the wrath of movie fans

Last night I watched the DVD of the movie “Memento”. I was really psyched because I had heard so many over-the-top-great reviews of it and even how it inspired a fan club.
What is the big deal? I don’t get this movie, not only in the purest sense of “not getting”, but I simply don’t get why it has inspired the adulation that it has.
(POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD)


So it’s backwards. Big whoop. If the same story had been told normally (forwards) it would be the most standard of crime thrillers. Not to mention that if this guy’s last memory is of him and his wife being attacked, how does he remember he has this short-term memory loss? That was never adequately explained (and the “Sammy” tattoo just doesn’t explain it) how does that trigger a memory in him that according to him, he shouldn’t be able to form? A plot hole that pretty much unravels the movie, if you ask me. And the backwards sequence doesn’t go back far enough to really explain what happens. Throughout the movie it makes you think that Teddy was the killer/rapist, then he wasn’t, then maybe Carrie Ann Moss just sent him on a revenge mission, and the last (first?) scene in the deserted warehouse does not cut it explanation-wise. And WHY does Leonard dress up in the dead drug-dealer’s suit and drive his Jaguar? To make himself MORE conspicuous to the police after he’d killed the dealer? Even with no memory, he ought to realize that is pretty stupid.
I certainly will not argue that Guy Pearce is an excellent actor, not to mention the fact that all those scenes of him with his clothes off were lovely eye candy. But to me this movie was nothing more than a gimmick, and a lazily executed one at that.
Explanations of key plot points are welcomed in the comments. Please do not tell me I am stupid or unimaginative. I honestly would like to know what I am missing.

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3 comments

  1. Ian

    Looks like a classic case of overhyping to me. This is why I gave Rushmore a miss for three years, because I knew my expectations would be too high (turned out I was wrong in that one case, but it’s still a good guide).
    Yes, that Leonard remembers his condition is a flaw. Or hyperbole on his part about his last memory being his wife’s death. One way or the other, giving this one thing a pass (a willing suspension of disbelief, if you will) will let everything else click into place.
    SPOILERS
    For most of the movie, you believe it’s a revenge story of one sort (death of his wife). One of the brilliant aspects of the film, to my mind, was that it turns out that revenge has already taken place, and this is revenge against a “friend” who has manipulated Leonard through his condition.
    END SPOILERS
    For further food for thought, try James Berardinelli’s review, this comment thread on a screenwriters’ message board, and this article by screenwriter Bill Martell, analyzing one aspect of the script’s expert execution.

  2. Emily

    Ian,
    If you check out some of the special features on the DVD, it mentions that Leonard was indeed a patient on a psychiatric ward, lending some credibilty to Teddy’s claim that Sammy killing his wife was something that Leonard had forced himself to believe because it was true that she had lived through the attack and was the one who had given *Leonard* the “it’s time for my shot” test, and that Teddy and Natalie were just messing with him in order to take advantage of his condition and get rid of certain people.
    Sasha, the whole point of the movie running backwards chronologically is that Leonard had no idea what had happened to him a few only a few minutes before, and neither does the viewer. As for remembering Sammy, you may not have caught it the first time, but he had mentioned that he had no problem remembering everything that had happened to him up until the time of his accident.
    Either way, Memento just seems to be one of those movies that people either love or hate. I guess it’s just a matter of taste.