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80

Generally favorable reviews - based on 34 Critics What's this?

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9.0

Universal acclaim- based on 713 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Dismissed by the police, Leonard Shelby (Pearce) is obsessed with pursuing vengeance for the rape and murder of his wife. The difficulty of his quest is compounded by his rare, untreatable form of memory loss.
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 34
  2. Negative: 1 out of 34
  1. Reviewed by: Jeff Giles
    100
    A gripping, utterly unexpected noir, glinting with bits of poetry and a hard, deadpan humor.
  2. 90
    Like the best filmmakers at Sundance 2001, Nolan leaps into the wild blue and dares us to leap with him. Go for it.
  3. 88
    This demanding puzzle is not for the "Chocolat" crowd, but those who stay with it will experience perhaps the most dazzling film released so far this year - even though a second viewing is virtually mandatory.
  4. Nolan sustains an arty note of existential dread that probably will work better for noir-steeped film critics and overserious philosophy grad students than for general audiences, but he brings off a few brisk bravura moments.
  5. 75
    A diabolical and absorbing experience.
  6. 38
    The dramatic content in Memento is as blank as Leonard's post-traumatic mental state.

See all 34 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 3 out of 136
  1. Feb 22, 2011
    10
    A Christopher Nolan's masterpiece, complex narrative is skillfully executed, keeping audiences guessing. Overall it's up to us, ourA Christopher Nolan's masterpiece, complex narrative is skillfully executed, keeping audiences guessing. Overall it's up to us, our interpretation, it's not just about the evidences Collapse
  2. Jan 15, 2015
    10
    This movie ...... it was a joy ride from beginning til end the whole thing just how it puts itself together is amazing and plays in reverse.This movie ...... it was a joy ride from beginning til end the whole thing just how it puts itself together is amazing and plays in reverse. The story is my favorite part. A man creates a strange system to help him remember things; so he can hunt for the murderer of his wife without his short-term memory loss being an obstacle. Expand
  3. Nov 7, 2012
    10
    Memento is not just any other movie, it
  4. Apr 23, 2015
    9
    Memory - it is one of the key elements that separates human beings from animals. It is one of the basic building blocks of personality. Who weMemory - it is one of the key elements that separates human beings from animals. It is one of the basic building blocks of personality. Who we are is shaped as much by our experiences as by our environment. Memory can also be unreliable, not to mention easily influenced. Ask three people to describe the same event, and none of those accounts will be the same. But, although memories are skewed by perspective, they are critical to the human experience. Memento is very much concerned with all aspects of memory, especially the manipulation of it, and this endlessly fascinating, wonderfully open-ended motion picture will be remembered by many who see it as one of the best films of the year.

    When I initially saw Memento at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival, where it played in competition, I recognized this as a shoo-in for a spot on my year's end Top 10 list. There's no way this film could miss. Had it been released last year, it would have landed in the #1 or #2 position (right ahead of or behind Requiem for a Dream). This is a great motion picture, and, as an added bonus, it has a tremendous "replayability", meaning that subsequent viewings are almost as rewarding as the first. The only downside is that, with a small distributor like Newmarket Capital Group, it may be difficult to find, especially for those who don't live near major metropolitan areas.

    Memento doesn't stop with a great premise. In fact, what really distinguishes this film is its brilliant, innovative structure. Nolan has elected to tell the story backwards. He starts at the end and finishes near the beginning. The main narrative is presented as a series of three-to-eight minute segments, each of which ends where the previous one began. A second thread, which starts at an unspecified time in the past and moves forward to intersect with the main storyline, is used to buffer the "reverse" segments as well as to provide background information. (It also tells the important "Sammy Jankis" story, which becomes increasingly important the deeper we get into the film.) Although this approach might at first seem confusing, it doesn't take long to get used to it, and to understand how well it works with this material.

    By presenting events in Memento backwards, Nolan allows us to get into the mindset of the main character. Like Leonard, we don't have a clear indication of what happened before the current segment of time. We know some things from the past, but not the recent past. Like him, we are presented with numerous cryptic clues, some of which may mean something other than what they initially appear to represent. And, although it might seem that an approach which reveals the story's conclusion in the first five minutes would lack tension, that's far from the case. Memento builds to a surprising yet completely logical finale, and there's plenty of suspense along the way to keep the viewer riveted.

    In some ways, Memento can almost be described as anti-Groundhog Day. (The presence of Stephen Tobolowsky in supporting roles in both movies strengthens the connection.) Both pictures toy with timelines and memory, but, while Groundhog Day re-treads one period of time, constantly re-shaping recent history, Memento represents the past as a vacuum. Bill Murray's character in the 1993 film has multiple memories of a single time period. Here, Leonard has none. Another movie that comes to mind when discussing Memento is the Dana Carvey comedy Clean Slate. The two films have pretty much the same premise, but, while Clean Slate does little with it, Memento draws every ounce of potential from this rich well.

    Every festival has a defining film. Sometimes it wins awards; sometimes it doesn't. For Sundance 2001, Memento was that movie. Despite its diversity of genres, the festival couldn't boast anything better; now, in the bleak movie-going climate of early spring, Memento is poised to breathe life back into art houses and independent theaters that have been as stung as multiplexes by mediocre fare. For those who love films and don't mind endings that don't wrap everything into a tidy package, Memento is not to be missed, even if you have to make a long trip to reach a theater showing it.

    When it comes to making a Top 10 list for 2001, one title I won't forget is Memento.
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  5. Dec 19, 2012
    9
    Que mais se podia esperar de Nolan... Um grande thriller! Percebem-se as base de David Lynch, neste tipo de filmes, o que éQue mais se podia esperar de Nolan... Um grande thriller! Percebem-se as base de David Lynch, neste tipo de filmes, o que é óptimo, quiçá a melhor e mais original peça de Christopher Nolan. Expand
  6. Sep 27, 2010
    8
    memento is one of christopher nolans best for me i loved the idea of a film being played backwards its what really gets to me and why i lovememento is one of christopher nolans best for me i loved the idea of a film being played backwards its what really gets to me and why i love this film unfortunatley i gave it an 8 because the story line could have been a little improved like if the main character has a loss of memory why is it that he nows that and why is it that the people he tells arent surprised of this other than that and a few things it was an amazing film oh and by the way a fantastic twist Expand
  7. Nov 29, 2010
    0
    I now know what is wrong with Christopher Nolan movies. The characters are lifeless. They are not real people. There is no vulnerability, noI now know what is wrong with Christopher Nolan movies. The characters are lifeless. They are not real people. There is no vulnerability, no character development, the dialogue is static and robotic. No real person speaks like that. I can see the intention to create depths in the characters, but this is clearly not the way to do it. This movie is just nauseating to watch. From minute one, you see that the main character's hair is dyed...you wonder why that is. The way everyone looks is always...too deep, unreal, like they are on drugs, not connected to the real world. Expand

See all 136 User Reviews

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