When I first watched Memento, I was blow away by its storytelling. The basic story is simple enough – Leonard is looking to avenge his wife’s murder. The twist is that he has a short term memory problem which makes it difficult for him to achieve his goal. He can only retain about 20 minutes worth of new memories before his short term memory resets, so he is constantly recording things in ink and in photos. Leonard’s memory problem also makes for interesting storytelling because Memento unfolds from his point of view. Memento‘s presentation is episodic to simulate Leonard’s memory function.
But the real brilliance of Memento is that the story is told reverse chronologically – backwards. The story begins with him killing his target and slowly goes back to explain how it all happened. And it’s probably not how you imagined.
You’ll get quite a rush from this movie. Imagine that you are riding shotgun with Leonard on his disorientating, episodic journey backward through time. At some point, the light bulb goes off. Leonard will not remember it, but at that moment your brain will races reverse chronologically (real time) to replay the whole story chronologically. If this is confusing, think about it for a second. It makes sense in a crazy way.