• It is Christopher Nolan’s second film and his big breakthrough
  • It showcases a mastery of editing- but different than the parallel editing high-wire acts he has become known for (and perfected in Dunkirk). This is a structural decision. The film is going backwards (which isn’t a cheap trick – it helps put you in the headspace of Guy Pearce’s Leonard and his condition) in color, forwards in the black and white interludes, and then they come together at the end at the 99 minute mark.

a bold triumph of narrative restructuring — the film is going backwards in color, forwards in the black and white interludes, and then they come together at the end at the 99 minute mark.

  • Opens with the reverse photography shaking of the polaroid—just total ingenuity
  • It is a truly great work of cinema with no dazzling set pieces, mise-en-scene set-ups/frames, or camera movements. This does not happen often.
  • There are many parallels to Inception of course. Much was made of how Leo’s Cobb mimics Nolan himself (or is a surrogate)—the suit, the hair (Pearce’s is dyed yellow here). Of course, like Inception this is about the creation and manipulation of an alternative reality—and Leonard/Cobb are haunted by their past
  • Certainly a film and complicated narrative that requires some intellect to stay with it- haha—I joked about Satoshi Kon’s films and how you need to do some mental gymnastics
  • The opening and closing of each color segment overlap and tie together to help.
  • I’ve seen the film enough times to see Leonard (a brilliant character) in many different ways and layers. I’ve seen him as a victim—I think you’re with him the first few times you see it. But now I can watch it differently and enjoy the reading (I don’t think there is one definitive reading) of him as a post-modern selfish parasite —a “survivor” as Moss’s character says—my reality is the only reality”. “You lie to yourself to be happy”. I can also see Moss’ characters’ reasons for trying to manipulate Leonard and Joe Pantoliano’s as well. They’re all using them for their own gain.
  • The black and white, the voice-over, the insurance investigator (from Double Indemnity) is all noir
  • Certainly has its comedic moments as well – “I don’t feel drunk”- the “some anonymous hotel room” – “I’m chasing this guy… no… he’s chasing me”-
  • Very clean, generic setting design and color—lots of blues in the color palette
  • In the action sequence moments we get a pulsating score—even before he met and worked with Zimmer- Nolan knows what he wants
  • You absolutely have to admire and awe at the intricate mouse trap and puzzle Nolan built here—cerebral.

You absolutely have to admire and awe at the intricate mouse trap and puzzle Nolan built here—cerebral.

  • Through editing Nolan connects the Leonard character with Sammy—one of the many stirring revelations in the final chapter. Many noted the similarities with Usual Suspects at the time. I see Pulp Fiction and Rashomon in the narrative inventiveness for sure. Chang-dong Lee’s underrated 1999 film Peppermint Candy works as well—ask does 1998’s Run Lola Run (though the tone and pace are totally different of course)
  • A Must-See film- top 5 of the year quality