Keeping Memories and Success Alive – Memento Movie Review
I’ve been getting quite a few good feedback about my “Lessons from Forrest Gump” post on success and happiness. Therefore, I’ve decided to do another post about another movie that I recently watched and how it relates to success.
My pick this time is the movie “Memento” directed by Christopher Nolan starring Guy Pearce. Here’s my breakdown of this unique film. The entire film is focused on Leonard, his disorder, and the challenges and trust issues that he faces while trying to avenge his wife’s murder. Guy Pearce’s character, Leonard, suffers from a rare brain disorder – the inability to form any new memories. With a damaged memory, Leonard goes on a wild goose chase after the person (John G.) who he believes raped and killed his wife. Through the film’s plot, Memento takes the audience on an adventure through the eyes of Leonard, letting us know the difficulties that he must endure as he tries to solve the mystery that has haunted him ever since he lost his wife.
I felt that the overriding purpose of Memento was to debate philosophical issues and concerns. The film highlighted that people in general base their reality on experiences that are remembered. Therefore, if memories do not exist, or are imperfect to begin with, what should we consider as reality? The film goes into a philosophical debate about the truths and principles about memory, and the possible repercussions about relying on a source that is imperfect and unreliable. For instance, early in the film, Leonard tells Teddy that “memory is unreliable and not perfect because memory could change the shape of a room or the color of a car.” With this in mind, I consider the overriding purpose of this film is to debate the philosophical issues that surround memory, including the behaviors and actions that occur based on a person’s memory which might, or might not be accurate.
The surface-level subject of this film is to solve a murder mystery of the wife of a man who has a rare brain disorder, incapable of making good conclusions because of that memory disorder. The only hope for him to find the truth is to take notes, pictures, and by tattooing himself with what he perceives to be important information to put the pieces of the puzzle together in an effort to avenge for the murder of his wife. The deeper underlying subject, or theme, of the film is largely about memory; how it is used to determine recognition, behaviors, actions, trust, and how horribly unreliable memory truly is. In addition, another underlying subject is that of grief; the relations grief has to memory; and how the relief of grief could assists with personal satisfaction and peace. A good example of this could be seen in Leonard’s quest for personal satisfaction and peace, when he stated “how am I supposed to heal if I can’t feel time?” The search to relieve his grief only creates more grief for himself, and the other characters in the film because of his memory disability. For example, there was one scene in the film where Leonard wanted to remember the night that his wife was murdered. Therefore, he hired an escort service prostitute to place his wife’s belonging all around the hotel room, just to relive that night all over again. Leonard instructed the prostitute to slam the bathroom door after she was done so that he would wake up in the middle of the night to investigate. Once he was awake and opened the bathroom door; he couldn’t remember who the prostitute was, or why she was in his bathroom, thus kicking her out from the hotel room altogether. While he searched for new ways to relinquish his grief and to relive that night, it ended creating more grief for him. Unfortunately since grief is tied to memory, he continues to make the same mistakes without ever remembering the additional grief that it causes him, thus causing a never ending cycle of pain and grief that is only felt by the other characters within the film.
So how does this movie relate to success and why am I blogging about it? Here’s my two cents.
Personally, I feel that the moral of the movie is that you should not lie to yourself in an effort to justify your actions and behaviors. Whether you are lying by eliminating part of the past from your memory, or by altering your memory to best suite your needs and goals, nonetheless it is still considered lying. Yes, I do agree with this point of view because you should not have to lie to yourself, or to others, because you want to achieve your goals. Not only is this unethical and immoral, but the continuous use of lies would ultimately lead to more harm for yourself and others, as was evident in the film. Instead, people need to face the facts, and work honestly on resolving the hurdles that are inhibiting them from achieving personal satisfaction, success, and peace. This is the only way to live and to move on with your life, especially if faced with personal tragedies, such as the ones noted in Memento.
As we’re aware, to be successful one must have good values. With this in mind, I believe that the values the movie is attempting to promote is honesty, equality, competency, individuality and credibility. I do agree with the values that the film is trying to promote because these values are cultural values that are shared with all communities in an effort to live cohesively as a race. In a sense, it is our social responsibility to adhere to these values. For instance, the basis of all relationships is trust, and trust is only earned if you’re honest, and you treat others with the respect and equality that they deserve, regardless of their background or incompetence. Without the values listed above, there would be chaos and anarchy in the world because no one would trust nor respect anyone, which in turn, would lead to crime, violence, and the perception that only the strongest will survive.
Overall, I would rate Memento as being an excellent film because the movie kept me interested throughout the entire feature. I was continuously guessing as to what would happen next, or why certain actions took place because the events in the film were out of chronological order. Due to this, Memento not only demanded my attention, but required for me to critically think throughout the movie about the philosophical, ethical and moral issues that surround the most basic concerns of how most people view reality. In addition, Memento provided valuable ethical and moral lessons that should be taken to heart, such as honesty, trust, and credibility. For the reasons mentioned above, I thought that the movie was excellent because most Hollywood movies do not take the audience to the same depths as Memento, along with providing valuable lessons that are applicable to everyday life. The best part was that it relates success!
If you haven’t seen this movie, I would definitely recommend it. For those who have seen it, I would be curious to get your opinion on how you felt about the movie and your thoughts on how it relates to success and happiness.