In the mood for another “Memento”?
If not, you’re not alone. The Twittersphere was quick to react today to news that it’s up for a remake. Let’s pray it never happens.
Christopher Nolan’s noirish mystery, which follows amnesiac protagonist Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce) as he investigates the rape and murder of his wife, received widespread acclaim upon its release in 2000. The positive response to its use of black-and-white photography and reverse chronology, from critics and audiences alike, launched Nolan’s rise to prominence as a director with both blockbuster appeal and arthouse flair.
Fifteen years later, widely imitated but rarely matched, “Memento” possesses a cult status similar to David Fincher’s “Fight Club”; its influence can be felt in everything from Gaspar Noé’s “Irreversible” (2002) and Nolan’s own “The Prestige” (2006) to NBC’s freshman drama “Blindspot,” which treats the tattoos on a woman’s body as clues to her identity. The “Memento” phenomenon appears, in this context, to be more than played out—by the time your premise has made the leap to broadcast television, it may also have jumped the shark.
Nevertheless, AMBI Pictures, the private equity-funded shingle anchored by newbie Hollywood investors Monika Bacardi and Andrea Iervolino, now has plans for a remake—no surprise, really, given that the mid-budget film financing concern purchased the rights (including remake and sequel rights) to Exclusive Media’s 400-film library, which includes “Memento,” in September.
What the project really does is bring attention to AMBI in a crowded marketplace. And, if the experiment proves to be a success, it sets the company up to capitalize on other titles in Exclusive’s library, including “Cruel Intentions” and “Donnie Darko”—the emo version of the 1990s and early 2000s nostalgia Netflix, FOX, and others are attempting to capture with the likes of “Fuller House” and “The X-Files” limited series.
But there’s no real reason for much confidence in either the project’s artistic or commercial success: “Memento” was the product of a talented filmmaker’s bold, innovative vision, and the very people to whom it appealed—critics and adult audiences with a taste for challenging fare—have already expressed exasperation at remake/reboot/revival mania, in film and on television. AMBI’s “Memento” will never match, much less improve on, the original, and there’s nothing to indicate that the company plans to re-jigger the source material in any significant way.
Iervolino himself (unintentionally) nodded at a better approach to “Memento”—which is to leave well enough alone—in announcing the project.
“People who’ve seen ‘Memento’ 10 times still feel they need to see it one more time,” he said, and at Amazon Video, YouTube, Vudu, and Google Play, you can do just that. At $2.99, it seems the safer bet.