Senior HTF Member
- Nov 5, 1998
It's a very intriguing premise, but one that's not really explored by the film.
Man, Al, I gotta disagree with you on this one. I think Patrick is really on to the main theme, which is underlined by some superb dialog. Having just watched it yet again, I was very in tune with some of these points since I was freed from dealing with the general structure.
Time and time again we take sidebars to investigate how Lenny is dealing with his wife's death. Catching the killer is the top layer, the pulp novel aspect, and the reverse telling of the story lends itself primarily to that. But the dialog, that is about a man dealing with life when his ability to mentally deal with life (assimilate thoughts and have a sense of time passing) has been removed from him.
Plus, even Teddy has dialog that talks about compromises any of us make to be happy. In the end we learn that our hero has betrayed himself and sent himself on a murder mission of Teddy for the sole purpose of maintaining his own happiness. The way he maintains his mental barriers and hides from the truth is no different from so many of us who use other methods to accomplish the same goal.
And that is the primary foil that Lenny is battling, not Teddy or Natalie. They are fleeting moments in his life, Teddy will be killed and Lenny will still continue on with his situation. Natalie has feelings for him, but when she finds out that she can't make him remember her (she is hurt at the coffee shop) we know she will move on as well. He will no longer have other people in his life, and therefore no human obsticles. He doesn't hate Teddy because he doesn't know Teddy.
The narrative who-done-it is just used to piggy-back this deeper character investigation. And one of the reasons I so strongly believe that is because of the ending scene. That scene is all about how he wants to deal with knowing he did it and every action he takes is to hide this info from himself. Sure we find out that he sent himself onto Teddy, but the REASON he is doing it is the center of the final, climatic scene. That tells me that is the primary focus of the film, not the detective narrative on top of it. It's not like they randomly picked the ending scene/dialog to be that, it's done for a reason.
And with that being said, I will have to strongly agree with those who have said that the reverse order is far from gimmicky, but rather inherent in telling the story in a way that allows the audiances some relation with Lenny.
You may think it would be just the same in order, but it wouldn't. Instead you would find yourself identifying more with Teddy and Natalie because Lenny's situation just wouldn't make complete sense to us. We might even question whether or not he was faking, for how could we totally understand what it is to not know these people. We are already picking up personalities and feelings about the characters that he doesn't have while we watch the reverse method.
And to add to it's editing/directing strength is the pacing with which the ending sub-plot is undercut throughout the "main" storyline, with the 2 stories converging right before the climax.
I would place the dialog as the best achievement in the film though. Some very excellent moments, especially the dialog down the stretch.
To top it all off, I think Guy Pearce gives one of the best male performances of the year so far. I'd put Nicholson's Pledge and John Cameron Mitchell's Hedwig up there as well.
He is believable as a detective sort, believable as a guy who forgets, and shows good, often subtle, emotions in most scenes. Instead of so wailing and moaning he has an almost bitter edge to him, he plays it jaded, betrayed by his condition, so that he is somber but tough.
I can see both supporting roles getting mentioned for awards as well.
--regarding the actual plot--
He doesn't go to the same tattoo place. In fact, we see him doing his own tattoo at one point and as far as I remember we only see the final tattoo parlor. When else do we see him there getting tattoos??
The narrative also quite clearly explains that CONDITIONING is possible. They spend a great deal of time going over that. He explains that he can do it and that is how he gets by. He has learned to look for photos and tattoos to figure things out, and even still he sometimes finds himself surprised by his own tattoos.