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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( 60)
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • Animated menus

Memento

Buena Vista/Buena Vista . R4 . COLOR . 108 mins . MA15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Having witnessed the violent death of his wife in their San Francisco apartment, Leonard Shelby (Guy Pierce) is a man with only one thing on his mind Ė tracking down his wifeís murder (or murders) and reaping bloody revenge. Leonardís problem, however, is that he was also hurt in the attack and has developed a rare form of brain damage - namely, he has lost the ability to form new memories. Although his long-term memory is fine, he simply canít remember anything that has happened since the incident for more than a few minutes after it's happened. Unperturbed by the enormity of his disability, Leonard relies on a strict system of note taking to get him through; carrying a sheaf of annotated Polaroids wherever he goes, and even tattooing the important facts about the murder all over his body.

Throughout his quest, Leonard is helped (or is it hindered?) by an obscure character that goes by the name of Teddy (Joe Pantoliano), and who seems to pop up wherever Leonard roams. Leonard also finds himself drawn to a similarly damaged soul in the form of a melancholy bartender named Natalie (Carrie-Anne Moss). But with only his Polaroids to tell him who to trust and who to avoid (even the clerk at his crappy hotel is ripping him off), the shifting motives of those that surround him are a constant source of frustration...

But the fun does not stop with Mementoís clever and original plot. Where this film really excels is in writer/director Christopher Nolanís innovative structure. You see, Memento begins at the completion of Leonardís quest and works its way backwards. The plot is delivered in a sequence of short scenes; each new scene starting at an unspecified time in the past and progressing forward to the point where the previous scene began. Confused? Well, youíre meant to be, but you soon become comfortable with this rather disjointed form of plot progression. Moreover, this innovative structure - what some critics have dismissed as nothing more than a flashy gimmick - represents the perfect complement to the filmís central premise.

Why? Well, Nolanís unconventional progression of the central narrative succeeds in perfectly evoking the feelings of confusion and displacement that Leonard suffers each time he Ďpops back iní to the here and now. Where is he? What was he just doing? These are the facts that Leonard must re-establish on an all too regular basis, and as we watch Memento we are forced to ask these very same questions. Every few minutes the viewer is transported to a place in the story that is unfamiliar, armed with only fleeting memories of what you have already seen to help you make any sense of it. As a viewer your cinematic senses become heightened and you find yourself scrambling for familiar cues Ė where is he? what is he doing? who is that he's with? In short, in Memento Nolan has constructed the quintessentially immersive cinematic experience.

Of course Memento relies on its cast to sell all this, and Guy Pearce gives a wonderfully convincing performance as Leonard, simultaneously conveying his sense of loneliness, his acute vulnerability and his all-consuming conviction. Here is a man that must trust only in his instincts whilst struggling to avoid being manipulated by those around him. Pearce is very ably supported by The Matrix cast-mates Carrie-Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano; Moss in particular, it seems, has not yet found the limits of her talent.

Of course some suspension of disbelief is necessary, but by the end of the film Leonardís condition and predicament are sold so well by both Pearce and Nolan that you will find yourself trying to piece together what you have seen for hours and hours after the film is back in its case and on the shelf.

  Video
Contract

Presented on a dual-layer disc at its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, Mementoís anamorphic transfer is very nearly perfect. Sharp and detailed, the image displays vibrant colours and deep, solid blacks. Shadow detail is also good, trailing off to some extent during several black and white sequences that have been shot in a quite dimly-lit motel room. Despite slightly lower detail, these same sequences display good contrast and bright, clean whites.

In terms of artefacts, one or two tiny specks crop up from time to time, and there is the slightest hint of aliasing in a couple of scenes, but no compression artefacts have been introduced at all. There is also the tiniest amount of film grain in one or two scenes, but nothing youíll notice unless you look for it. The layer change occurs around the one hour mark and is well placed on a fade to black.

All in all this is a very nice video presentation indeed, giving you a perfect rendition of the source material. What more could you ask for?

  Audio
Contract

In terms of audio, we are provided with a reasonable Dolby Digital 5.1 mix (English only). Being a predominantly dialogue-driven film, the centre channel gets the heftiest workout, delivering clear and distinct dialogue (without sync problems) for the filmís duration. The front channels are used predominantly to deliver Mementoís characteristic and eerily unsettling score created by David Julyan (who also produced the music for Nolan's other films: Following, and the soon to be released Insomnia). The front channels also carry the odd effect and some foley work, whilst the surround channels are utilised to convey an almost constant amount of ambient sound - from sounds of the city, to patrons in Natalieís bar and the hum of Leonardís Jaguar convertible.

Bereft of showy directional effects, or subwoofer activity, this is not a soundtrack that will amaze, but it does provide a perfect compliment to the film.

  Extras
Contract

Aah, no actually. Memento is the kind of disc that the term bare-bones was specifically coined to describe, with nicely animated menus providing access to the chapter stops and absolutely nothing else. Of all the films Iíve seen this year, Memento is the film I most want to know more about! With a region 1 release containing an interview with Nolan and the original short story on which the film was based (amongst other extras), a region 4 Collectorís Edition surely canít be far away?

  Overall  
Contract

Memento is a very rare film Ė a thriller that so utterly immerses you in the world of the protagonist, that so convincingly conveys his mental and emotional state, that for me itís simply a must-see. Sure it has a gimmick (for want of a better term), but this is no Sixth Sense relying on an eleventh hour tale-twist to sell its entire plot. This is a perfectly constructed film that builds and builds a sense of suspense and intrigue until the very last frame; holding you glued to the screen and hanging on every word. With a fine video and audio presentation, this region 4 release of Memento is let down only by its dearth of extras. However, even for the film alone this disc represents essential viewing.


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      And I quote...
    "The epitome of immersive cinema, Memento is the most innovative and entertaining thriller Iíve seen in a very long time..."
    - Gavin Turner
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Toshiba SD-2108
    • TV:
          Panasonic TC-68P90A TAU (80cm)
    • Receiver:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Amplifier:
          Yamaha RX-V795
    • Speakers:
          B&W 602
    • Centre Speaker:
          B&W CC6 S2
    • Surrounds:
          JM Lab Cobalt SR20
    • Subwoofer:
          B&W ASW-500
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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