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#1
Old 12-30-2017, 07:23 AM
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Questions about Christopher Nolan's Memento (2001)

I think I mostly understand Memento, at least the parts we're meant to understand.

But I still have a few questions:

1. Most important: Why did Lenny take Jimmy's clothes? I thought that strict routine was important to him. Wouldn't it be a violation to have different clothes, especially a different jacket, because of the meticulous way he kept the Polaroids in the pockets?

2. When Natalie first saw Lenny behind the bar, and realized it wasn't Jimmy, why didn't she accuse him of stealing Jimmy's car?

3. Why was Natalie so grateful for Lenny's merely beating up Dodd when she suspected that Dodd had killed Jimmy?

4. I presume the note in the jacket pocket was meant for Jimmy, right?

5. When Teddy gave Lenny the address to the Discount Inn, he knew that Lenny was already renting a room there, right?

6. And the main thing that is left ambiguous: Was the story about the insulin "suicide" about Sammy's wife or Lenny's wife, right? We're supposed to be left wondering which one is true. (Secondarily, there might not have been a "John G." at all)

Last edited by Acsenray; 12-30-2017 at 07:25 AM.
#2
Old 12-30-2017, 07:31 AM
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Part of No. 2: Why didn't Natalie recognize that Lenny was wearing Jimmy's clothes? She should have suspected right away that Lenny had killed Jimmy.
#3
Old 01-01-2018, 10:58 AM
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Anyone interested in this?
#4
Old 01-01-2018, 11:34 AM
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I am interested.

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#5
Old 01-01-2018, 12:35 PM
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1. I think taking Jimmy's clothes was part of some plan that Teddy had cooked up. The car had a lot of money in the trunk, I think Teddy had some kind of overarching plan that wasn't shared with us, and that if Leonard heard it he's forgotten. It could also just be part of Leonard's revenge fantasy to take over John/Jimmy G's rich life since his own life was ruined. It's not definitely explained within the movie. I also don't think the different jacket threw Leonard off, he only keeps a few polaroids around and can easily transfer them.

2. She and Jimmy deal with a lot of dangerous people and do a bunch of illegal stuff. I can't see how confronting someone about the car would end well for her, if it's just a similar car then she looks dumb, if not then she's picking a fight with someone dangerous who might have hurt or killed Jimmy while she's alone and unarmed. Once she realizes that a guy wearing Jimmy's clothes and driving his car is sitting in her bar, she knows something really messed up is going on.

3. Natalie was playing up the 'saved girlfriend' role because that was her trick to get Leonard to take care of Dodd. She was glad to get rid of Dodd, but wasn't really all that over-the-top happy inside, it was just an act. I don't think she actually thought Dodd killed Jimmy, I think she knows that Leonard/Teddy were involved in it. I think that during the scene where she gives him Teddy's license info, she realizes the memory issue is real and feels some remorse for messing with Leonard.

4. If you mean the note on the coaster, yes. Leonard is so used to having notes to himself that he assumes a note in his jacket is meant for him, even though it would be completely crazy to go to a meeting meant for a guy who you just killed and dressed like.

5. I think so.

6. I think the real pre-movie story is: Leonard works in insurance and encounters a con-man named Sammy Jenkins, who he exposes as faking a memory condition. Sammy might not even have a wife, does look like the guy Jimmy remembers. Later, thugs break into Leonard's house, where they rape and badly injure his wife and hit his head. Leonard and his wife both survive, but he has amnesia. Eventually his wife tries to 'trick' him out of his 'mental issues' with the insulin trick, she dies, and this devastates him.

He can't deal with it, so he keeps repeating a false series of events to himself until he remembers it. All of the stuff that he says happened with Sammy actually happened to Leonard, and 'Sammy's wife' in the memories is actually Leonard's wife. There's a scene where "Sammy" is sitting in a chair in a mental hospital, looks up at a visitor, and turns into Leonard for a short time as a subtle nod to this. Since he has convinced himself he didn't kill his wife, he blames the thug(s) who broke in, and obsesses over them. The second thug possibly exists though it could be a fabrication. Teddy helps Leonard kill 'John G' because he wants to help Lenny or it helps Teddy's plot or both, then decides to use Lenny to go around making money by killing 'John G's. (Lenny is the perfect partner in crime for this, since if they get caught Lenny can't remember that John G was involved).

Last edited by Pantastic; 01-01-2018 at 12:36 PM.
#6
Old 01-01-2018, 05:16 PM
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Disclaimer: I've seen Memento several times, although not in the past few years, so it's possible I don't remember some significant details. I just checked a couple of important scenes on the DVD, but due to the unusual structure of the movie this involved a good bit of skipping around and I may have missed something.

I don't know why Leonard took Jimmy's clothes, but he did so deliberately. He ordered Jimmy to strip before killing him, saying he didn't want to get blood on the clothes, and quickly changed into Jimmy's clothes afterward. He's shown transferring the Polaroids to Jimmy's jacket. Later when Leonard is taking Jimmy's car he tells Teddy he'd rather be mistaken for a dead guy than a killer, although it's not clear this was his original motivation.

Natalie sees Leonard for the first time before he comes into the bar. She's outside when he pulls up in Jimmy's car and goes to greet him, thinking he's Jimmy. She's clearly troubled when she sees that it's another man and that he's not just in Jimmy's car but wearing Jimmy's clothes. We know she's noticed that he's wearing Jimmy's clothes because inside the bar she makes a comment about how Leonard is dressed. When he shows her the note he found in "his" pocket (which was indeed meant for Jimmy), she also says "YOUR pocket?"

I basically agree with Pantastic about Natalie's behavior. She didn't go to the police or confront Leonard because she knew Jimmy was a criminal, figured that something bad had happened to him but didn't know what or why, and likely knew that there were drugs and/or money in the car. She must have realized that Leonard was involved in Jimmy's disappearance, but once she'd established that Leonard really did have amnesia she also must have realized that Leonard himself didn't know what had happened.

Natalie seems to have felt some sympathy for Leonard due to his condition, but was also angry at him for whatever role he'd played in Jimmy's death. I'm not sure whether she really suspected that Dodd was involved in Jimmy's death or if she had some other problem with Dodd. When she sent Leonard after Dodd it seems to have been a situation where she would have been fine with either or both of them getting beat up.

As for your final question, the movie doesn't give us enough information to be sure of the truth. Leonard is brain-damaged, may be wrong about things he believes happened, and by the end of the movie we know he's willing to deceive himself. However, Teddy is a liar who's been manipulating Leonard all along for his own benefit. From previous threads I think a lot of viewers do take Teddy's story at face value, but while he may be telling the truth and I think his story is at least partially true, he does have good reason to lie. Teddy provides Leonard with an alternate version of his wife's death only when Leonard realizes what's going on and is angry enough to kill Teddy.
#7
Old 01-02-2018, 02:25 AM
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There's a fantastic breakdown of the film from a 2001 article:
https://salon.com/2001/06/28/memento_analysis/
#8
Old 01-02-2018, 09:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lamia View Post
I'm not sure whether she really suspected that Dodd was involved in Jimmy's death or if she had some other problem with Dodd. When she sent Leonard after Dodd it seems to have been a situation where she would have been fine with either or both of them getting beat up.
But Dodd was definitely looking for Jimmy, so Natalie must have known that Jimmy was taking the money to Dodd. She also told Lenny that Dodd demanded the money from her.

Quote:
As for your final question, the movie doesn't give us enough information to be sure of the truth. Leonard is brain-damaged, may be wrong about things he believes happened, and by the end of the movie we know he's willing to deceive himself. However, Teddy is a liar who's been manipulating Leonard all along for his own benefit. From previous threads I think a lot of viewers do take Teddy's story at face value, but while he may be telling the truth and I think his story is at least partially true, he does have good reason to lie. Teddy provides Leonard with an alternate version of his wife's death only when Leonard realizes what's going on and is angry enough to kill Teddy.
Yes, I agree. I think this is the final, unanswered puzzle.
#9
Old 01-02-2018, 11:38 PM
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2. My impression is because she knew he was the memory guy, and wanted to see how he'd react to her interactions.

5. Yes

6. My impression is yes, it was about Lenny.

On another note, there is (was) a youtube video where someone took the movie memento and organized the scenes chronologically while also taking all the black and white flashback scenes out. The end result was only about 40 minutes long, but was actually pretty sad to watch Lenny's behavior in order.
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#10
Old 01-03-2018, 08:50 AM
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Main points: yes, I think SJís story was really Leonardís and Leonard killed the real John G long ago.
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