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Memento is the film I decided to do my final analysis essay because it is one of very few films that is told in reverse order. The main character Leonard Shelby kills the murderer of his wife in the film’s first scene and the film moves backward from that point. Memento is a film that allows us (the viewers) to see the film as neo-noir because of Leonard’s amnesia-like disability. The story is revealed backward so the viewers only know what Leonard knows, which means that it is extremely difficult for the viewers to know what is going to happen next/what happened before. The genre, non-diegetic, the goal-orientated plot, and many other things make the film Memento seem neo-noir in the scene where Leonard hits Natalie and Natalie goes back outside to wait for Leonard to forget so that she could walk back in as he forgot. This film falls into more than one genre, which is mystery and thriller. Mystery “centers on a person of authority, usually a detective that is trying to solve a mysterious crime. A mystery is one of Mementos genres because Leonard is trying to find who raped and murdered his wife. Leonard, with the inability to remember what happened after he got knocked out in the incident, developed a mysterious amnesia-disability that does not allow him to create new memories and heavily relies on notes to himself and important facts tattooed to his body.
Due to Leonard’s rare disease, there are only a limited number of clues that are given in each scene. The scene that I chose was mysterious because Natalie grabs every pen and writing utensil for whatever mysterious reason and puts them in her purse/backpack. Soon after, they both get into an argument and Leonard punches Natalie in her face. Natalie leaves outside to wait for a few minutes as Leonard tries to find a writing utensil to write down what just happened. As he is doing so Natalie walks in and he completely forgot he punched her and asked her what happened to her face. Little do we know that these little mysterious actions can make a difference.
This film also falls under the genre thriller. There is so much tension and clues to look forward to in this film that make it a thriller! With the story being told in reverse order, viewers are kept at the edge of their seat, constantly wanting to know what is going to happen next/what happened before event. This format helps build suspense and surprises viewers. It shocked me that Natalie took advantage of Leonard when she said that Dodd was the one that beat her up, when in reality it was Leonard that punched her for talking trash about his memory disorder and wife.
There were so many non-diegetic elements in Memento that made it a neo-noir film. The main non-diegetic element that made the film seem neo-noir is him talking to himself during the movie, like in many detective movies. In the scene that I chose to analyze, Leonard is seen mentally talking to himself, telling himself to hurry and find a pen or he will forget the situation he was in with Natalie wanting him to “get rid of Dodd”. Hearing Leonard talking to himself in his mind does not exist in the real world which is why it is non-diegetic.
Memento is a goal-oriented plot where Leonard wants to solve the mystery of who raped and killed his wife. Leonard’s goal can only be achieved with time and patience. As days go by, Leonard learns to stay updated with any new information by writing down information onto paper notes and tattooing facts about the mystery guy that killed his wife. He starts his days by picking up onto notes that he left for himself to solve. Day by day, moment by moment, Leonard makes progress towards his goal by solving new clues every day.