[MOVIE REVIEW]Play It Again, Chris, and AgainSome memories are best forgotten. This simple truth in the film "Memento" evades Leonard Shelby, whose short-term memory lasts only 10 minutes.
It was March in the United States when the ambitious 30-year-old filmmaker Christopher Nolan's second feature film, "Memento," was released to only 11 theaters. Many expected the film to mimic his first release, "Following" (1998), which most critics liked but the public hardly noticed. Yet soon "Memento" had a huge following and was playing in more than 500 theaters, thanks to word-of-mouth recommendations.
Scheduled for release Saturday in Korea, "Memento" is demanding, mostly because the plot unfolds backward. Even the film's official Web site, www.otnemem.com, created by the director's brother, Jonathan Nolan, is the title of the film spelled backwards. Jonathan Nolan wrote the short story "Memento Mori," the film's inspiration. If you allow yourself to sit back and relax, the film will blow right by you on its reverse track. The movie demands mental focus, but it's worth it.
Shelby (Guy Pearce) is a former insurance investigator who once took pride in his efficiency. After his wife is raped and murdered and Shelby himself is shot in the head, he is left with a passion for vengeance and a rare form of short-term-memory loss. He functions by taking snapshots of every place and person and by leaving notes for himself about every aspect of his life. Any really important information, primarily leads on his wife's killer, he tattoos on his body. All of his effort, however, turns out to be distorted, leading the audience to savor the subtle difference between the truth and the interpretation of a memory.
The film would have been a mediocre thriller were it simply played forward. But the reversed action is cleverly choreographed, and even though it is an unsettling film, if you watch it a couple of times, you'll figure out that it's not that complicated.
Some local theaters are offering a discount of 1,000 won (80 cents) if you bring proof that it's this is your second time seeing the film.
Absorbing performances from Pearce ("L.A. Confidential") and "Matrix" star Carrie-Anne Moss add flavor to the film.
Don't go to this film to unwind. But if you want something totally out-of-the-ordinary, this is a compelling choice.
by Chun Su-jin