Memento

January 28, 2012 9 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) has a condition, one which prevents him from making new memories. He is able to remember things from his distant past, but since his wife was raped and murdered, he has been unable to form new memories. But he seeks revenge against the man responsible for her death, so he tries to hunt down that person, even with the severe limitations of his conditions. He takes a lot of notes, takes plenty of Polaroid photos, and when he really needs to remember something, he has the information tattooed on himself. He is unable to trust anyone without some kind of hesitation, so he relies on facts and his notes, but only those written in his own handwriting, of course. As he makes his way through various people and places, he adds to his cache of notes and information, hoping it will all lead him to the man who killed his wife. And when he does find that person, he plans to kill him and while he won’t remember it, he plans to take a picture to memorialize the moment. But with his kind of condition, will Leonard ever be able to compile enough data to find the right person and exact his revenge?

This film was never given a massive theatrical release, but it was seen in the box office top ten for a few weeks, which is impressive, to be sure. Memento was also showered with critical and audience praise, which made a lot of folks wish for a wider release, so everyone could have a chance to soak it in. But while that never happened, the time has come when anyone can view Memento, thanks to this DVD from Columbia. I managed to see Memento on the big screen (after a lengthy drive), but as soon as it ended, I was ready to watch it again. I was unable to do so, but now that this disc has been released, I was able to and I was not disappointed. I figured some of the magic would be gone after the first time, but Memento held up very well and even though I knew the basics, I was able to take a lot more in, more depth and more detail. It can be a little hard to grasp the first time around, but it still packs a powerful punch and upon the second visit, it all starts to come in much more clearly, I think. Memento is a memorable, fresh film that is nothing less than a must see and for fans, this disc is a must own, without a doubt.

In one of the more original, challenging roles in recent years, Guy Pearce has his work cut out for him, but he nails each scenes with precision. After I’d seen the film a couple times, I went back and just watched Pearce, or more to the point, his reactions to people and situations, which his character deals with in unusual fashion, of course. His eyes and facial expressions really drive home his lack of memory, as he has some inner spark, but is unable to remember a thing. This is down to the smallest detail with Pearce’s performance, which I feel was one of the best efforts of 2000, without a doubt. He has it all down to a science with this role, which means he is disjointed at times, but maintains control very well. You can also see Pearce in such films as Ravenous, Rules of Engagement, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and L.A. Confidential. The cast also includes Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix, U.S. Marshals), Carrie-Anne Moss (Chocolat, Red Planet), and Mark Boone Junior (The Game, Animal Factory).

Video: How does it look?

Memento is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. I had hoped for an excellent visual effort here and thankfully, Columbia has delivered the goods. This is pretty close to perfection, with only a few small errors to report, which keeps it from the sacred reference level recommendation. The flaws are very minor however, such as a couple instances of edge enhancement, so don’t be concerned in the least, as this transfer should meet and exceed all expectations. The print looks fantastic, colors are bright, flesh tones seem natural, and contrast is superb, no real issues to discuss here. I am thrilled with this visual presentation from Columbia, as I am sure fans of the film will be also.

Audio: How does it sound?

I wasn’t too impressed with Memento’s audio presence in the theater, but this disc improves on that, to be sure. The included Dolby Digital 5.1 track is quite active and provides a solid atmosphere, especially in some of the more vital scenes. No, this is not the kind of flick to part your hair with audio power, but sometimes subtle can be very effective, as it is in this case. The surrounds are used to create an environment, a normal one however, not one with false depth or such. The sound effects are clean and well placed within the mix, while the music is rich and suits the material well, very cool stuff. The dialogue is always strong however, never pulled under the other elements or muffled in the least. This disc also includes a 2.0 surround option, as well as subtitles in English and Spanish, should you remember that you’ll need those.

Supplements: What are the extras?

I know fans were let down to learn this wasn’t a special edition release, but some cool supplements have been included, to be sure. I was very taken with the Tattoos option, in which you can browse all of Leonard’s tattoos, as well as the conceptual artwork on each one. You can view these side-by-side or look at each one full screen, which makes it all easy to navigate, as it should be. Next is Memento, which is a collection of all sorts of written notes, most of which are seen in the film, perhaps even for just a few moments. But in addition to those, you’ll also find some new ones and as you read through them, you’ll learn more about the events & characters, very cool indeed. A nice way to provide some additional insight and background, but not too much, as some issues remain unresolved or unexplained, which I think is good. The entire short story Memento Mori (written by director Chris Nolan’s brother Jonathan) is included here also, as well as a twenty-five minute interview with Christopher, which was made for IFC around the time of the film’s release. This disc also includes some talent files, a television spot, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

Disc Scores

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