After the low-key success of his debut film Following, Christopher Nolan's next film (2000) came from a short story his brother was writing and, as the story developed, so did the screenplay. The result is one of cinema's most intriguing, tricksy films that makes The Usual Suspects look like a straightforward narrative.
Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce, pictured), is an ex-insurance investigator who's vowed to find and kill the man responsible for his wife's murder. However, in the same attack, he was left with a condition that has wiped out his short-term memory of all events after the attack. Within just 15 minutes, he has forgotten everything he has been told, knows nothing of the people who know him and cannot remember even the name of the motel he's staying in. To keep his information intact, he relies on notated Polaroids, notes and even tattoos on his body.
The film's fascinating premise isn't just Shelby's lack of memory but the way Nolan plays with the time structure of the film: a murder seen in the opening seconds re-winds, bullets re-enter the gun, a Polaroid "un-develops", and the narrative too runs backwards, with clues revealed after the action they cause has been seen.
It's riveting stuff, with Pearce perfect as both the bereft widower and the blank canvas others write on, with an ending that, while supremely logical, demands a second or even third viewing to finally complete cinema's most complex jigsaw.