Memento Movie Summary
In the movie Memento, Leonard Shelby suffers from anterograde amnesia after receiving a blow to the head by one of two men who murdered and raped his wife. This has led to Leonard to develop a system of Polaroids, tattoos, and nonlinear story telling that enables him to hunt for his wife’s killer, whom he may or may not have killed already.
What Leonard does remember is his life before the attack; working as an insurance claims investigator. Leonard has tattooed the name of Sammy Jankis on his hand. Sammy was a man Leonard denied an insurance claim on after he too had suddenly become stricken with the same type of amnesia after a traumatic event. Through Sammy’s story, Leonard has learned to deal with his own condition, but over the course of the film, the viewer questions if Leonard and Sammy are the same person.
As Leonard meets people, he takes Polaroid pictures of the important few to remember them, and he writes notes of the back of the photos to warn him who is friend, who is foe, and he even needs to take photos of the car he drives and the place he’s staying at. When he learns important facts about the case, he tattoos that information on his body so he can never lose it.
Leonard is looking for a man named John or Jimmy G, and he gets help finding this person from a cop who calls himself Teddy. He might not even be a cop. We just don’t know. Teddy’s real name is John Gammell, but of course he doesn’t want Leonard to know that. Leonard also gets help from Natalie, the girlfriend of the drug dealer Jimmy Grantz; the man Teddy claims killed Leonard’s wife. Unfortunately for Leonard, he never remembers these two (or anyone for that matter), and he never knows who they are, why they are helping him, and if he can trust them. In the end, which happens at the very beginning of the movie, Leonard kills Teddy, thinking he is the John G he’s been looking for, or maybe he just wants to kills Teddy, with Leonard, you never know what’s going on in his mind.
You might want to take notes for this one…there’s a lot to remember.
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