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Reel Critic -- June Fenner

March 29, 2001

"Memento" follows the story of a man, Leonard, who as a result of a

blow to his head has lost his short-term memory. He has no trouble

remembering events before his injury, but he can't remember present

events for more than a few minutes. What he does know is that just prior

to being hit over the head, he found the body of his murdered wife.

Guy Pearce ("L.A. Confidential"), an excellent Australian actor, gives

a bravura performance as an intelligent man struggling to discover the

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truth with only fleeting access to the knowledge locked away somewhere in

his brain.

I knew, going in that this would be a tough assignment. I had seen the

previews and read the reviews. I thought I was fully prepared to follow a

story in which the events are revealed in reverse order. All I had to do,

I told myself, was remember the scenes I had already seen.

It's not that easy. We are so conditioned to experiencing time in a

linear fashion, always rolling from the past through the present and into

the future, that to follow events that occur in reverse order takes

powers of concentration and an attention to detail that seem to be

eluding me.

Oddly enough, I found my efforts to follow "Memento's" plot akin to

those experienced by Leonard -- by the time I had figured out what was

going on in one scene, I couldn't remember how it tied in to the previous

scene. Unfortunately, unlike Leonard, I could not resort to taking

Polaroid photos or tattooing vital information onto my body.

I left the theater with no clear understanding of how the movie

"turned out." The secret of the murderer's identity is safe with me. That

said, I have to admit that I still enjoyed the challenge. The film is

infused with a wonderful film noir mood. Pearce's performance is nothing

short of dazzling.

If you are looking for a pleasant way to while two hours away, this

movie will probably frustrate you. If you love the challenge of

unraveling an intriguing puzzle, this movie could be just the ticket.

o7 "Memento" is rated R for violence, language and some drug content.

f7

* JUNE FENNER, a Costa Mesa resident in her late 50s, is vice

president of a work-force training company.

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