How memorable, really?

Review of Memento (2000)

Review of Memento (2000) movie, by Stefan Stenudd


Memento is a reminder or a warning, as in the classic expression: Memento mori, remember that you will die. It is grim, but also helpful. Shouldn't we live our lives like that? Should we not, like Leonard in the movie, reexamine our whole situation, each morning after waking up?

       When Leonard fights his incapacitated short-memory, to catch the killer of his wife and avenge her, he has found a simple, straightforward meaning to his life, easily filling each new moment of his days — and there are many. Upon completion, what can he possibly do to keep such a sense of purpose? It's pretty much a no-win situation.

       But the movie is fascinating, mainly because of it staying, as Kurt Vonnegut called it in Slaughterhouse 5, "unstuck in time". This opens for a refreshing narration, keeping your eyes open and your mind awake. It is done with great skill, too, so that it almost becomes natural, as if time is supposed to work like this.

       My problem is with the characters. In this staccato form, they do not really get any depth, are not explored to the extent where I feel I know what makes them tick. The characters become like the plot itself: cut up in tiny pieces, and scrambled.

       That would be Ok, too, if it were not for the ending (which I will not give away here). The ending — well, the beginning, sort of — loses credibility by the fact that we have gotten to know too little about the main characters, to anchor it in. Not as bad as a deus ex machina intervention in the last minute, but still. I don't feel the ending to be what Aristotle meant by 'necessary', and I don't know enough about the characters to say what would have been such an ending.

       Unfortunately, this shortcoming makes the film less memorable than it otherwise deserves to be.

Stefan Stenudd
12 January 2003


More Reviews



Ever Young

Ever Young. Supernatural fiction by Stefan Stenudd. Supernatural fiction
I have lots of opinions on storytelling, since that is also my own profession. Here is a story of mine:

       Caroline witnesses the agonizing death of her twin brother, when they are no more than 15 years old. Horrified, she feels that nobody should ever have to die. Then she discovers a hidden visitor in her home, who has the ability to live forever without aging at all. And this ability can be transmitted. But she finds that there are grisly downsides to such longevity. Click the image to see the book at Amazon (paid link).



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About me
I'm a Swedish author of fiction and non-fiction books in both Swedish and English. I'm also an artist, an historian of ideas and a 7 dan Aikikai Shihan aikido instructor. Click the header to read my full bio.