Christopher Nolan's crafty, twisty thriller builds itself on the foundation of film noirs past and present, but what gives it its own special kick is Nolan's steadfast determination against sentimentalizing his characters or subject, which immediately gives the film turf credibility. Memento is built on a device that doesn't always work in other pictures -- the narrative is told in reverse -- but here it has a pulsating life all its own. Nolan's taut screenplay and inventive direction find the nasty heart of the central tale, and the cast members offer juicy performances -- especially the versatile Guy Pearce, who manages a convincing zigzag of emotions and attitudes. One could argue that Memento is a bit too cold to truly mesmerize, but even for its chilliness, the film works as a labyrinthine entertainment. Its smart sensibility and willingness to embrace the best of its noir origins is what makes it memorable. This film was the toast of the 2001 Sundance Film Festival, picking up the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award -- though many carped it should have taken additional prizes.
by Jason Clark review