"Memento": A Critical Analysis

Essay by georgedlUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, September 2006

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Memento is a mind-bending journey into a tainted struggle for existence in the absence of our 'episodic' memories (any previous events of the day). The premise of Memento follows the main character, Lenny, is a person who is diagnosed with Anterograde amnesia that was the result of a blunt trauma to the head, leaving him unable to convert any new events into long-term memory, and also leaving him to relive the day of the rape and murder of his wife. On his quest to avenge the unremitting past events, he keeps his body covered with a litany of tattooed and is reliant upon hastily written reminders and notes as he struggles to sort out one moment from the next. The cast of characters in the frame of reference to Lenny is of the utmost importance in regards to how the story is structured. The disorienting chronological sequencing of the film is an exceptional depiction of the permanent confusion that Anterograde amnesia would initiate in the life of someone suffering from this particular condition.

Lenny's organized system of note and picture taking have allowed him to track his wife's killer, even though he forgets everything after only a few minutes. The characters that are introduced throughout, both good and bad, complicate Lenny's task and makes it more difficult. His only way of knowing who he can trust is by reading a self-written note on the back of their picture. Natalie (Carrie-Anne Moss) confronts Lenny with information that will help him, and does it because he did something for her earlier. What that was, is something that we don't find out, (the reason for the movie going backwards) until Lenny is reminded of it. Teddy (Joe Pantoliano) is another character trying to help him out, but he may not be...