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Memory. It’s taken for granted, and, like anything else that’s taken for granted, it’s hard to realize just how important it is. What you know... who you know... who you love, fear, trust... it all depends on trusting your memories. But what if one day all of that was taken away from you?

Memento (Columbia Tri-Star edition)
Movie
Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce), the protagonist of Memento, lives in a perpetual bubble of “now,” struggling to make sense of his past and plan for the future because he suffers from the inability to form new memories. Everything dissolves around him; acquaintances become strangers, familiar places become alien, anything that happened more than ten or fifteen minutes ago is lost in the fog. Only the long-term memories formed before his accident remain whole... and it’s the content of these memories that drives Leonard on his never-ceasing quest for justice... and vengeance.

Without giving anything away, I can go so far as to say that the complex storyline both demands and richly rewards close attention from the viewer. Every scene builds on the next scene and draws from the previous scene, constantly forcing you to re-evaluate what you know, or rather what you think you know, about what’s going on. Director Christopher Nolan skillfully creates an atmosphere of suspense not by “what happens,” but by the more intriguing question of “why did this happen”; bit by bit, we tease out the characters’ motivations and the links of cause and effect that hold the movie together. At the same time, the film explores some very interesting ideas about memory, grief, and the perception of time, and how the human mind both shapes its own perceptions and is shaped by forces outside its control.

Guy Pearce does a superb job as Leonard of conveying the nuances of a character who must have been very difficult to interpret. From the very first scene to the end of the film, he’s both sympathetic and frightening, very human and yet strangely alien, helpless yet determined. Carrie-Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano also turn in excellent performances as people who are involved in the tangle of confusion, manipulation, and lies surrounding Leonard’s quest.

The unconventional chronological structure of the film is brilliantly conceived and skillfully executed. Nolan has chosen to use a daring and complex structure for the film, and it pays off with a final product that succeeded in drawing me in and keeping my eyes glued to the screen for every minute of the film.

I can’t praise Memento too highly. The intriguing premise, fascinating structure, intricate plot, polished directing and cinematography, and excellent acting fit together to form an outstanding, suspenseful whole. As an independent, modestly-budgeted project, Memento goes to show that independent films, not Hollywood studios, often do the best job of creating something truly original.

Memento (Columbia Tri-Star edition)
Video
Columbia Tri-Star’s release of Memento is of exceptional quality. The anamorphic 2.35:1 transfer is simply gorgeous: clear, beautiful, and noise-free. Visually, Memento is one of the best transfers I’ve seen.

Audio
I’m quite pleased with the audio quality of Memento as well. The Dolby 5.1 soundtrack makes excellent use of the surround capability; it’s not used constantly, but it’s used effectively in scenes where it counts. The dialogue is clear and well-balanced with other elements of the soundtrack.

Extras
The movie is the highlight of this DVD, not the special features, which are so-so. The most interesting piece is a fifteen-minute interview with the director, which appears to be from an appearance on a TV talk show. In this clip, Nolan makes some interesting comments about the origin of the idea for the movie, and what he was trying to achieve with it. The other special features are a pointless “game,” a trailer and TV spot, and biographies.

Memento (Columbia Tri-Star edition)
Overall
What can I say? Well-crafted, creative, gripping... simply put, Memento is a movie that demands multiple viewings. With Columbia Tri-Star’s top-notch production of the DVD, there’s no reason to wait. Go get this movie.


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