My younger brother told me a story while we were driving from Chicago to Los Angeles,” says British filmmaker Nolan (writer director of the 1999 Slamdance award winning ”Following”). ”Immediately I said, ‘Can I write the screenplay?”’ Jonathan Nolan’s twisty tale had all the hallmarks of a classic, straightforward film noir: After a man awakens from a blow to the head and finds his wife raped and murdered beside him, he goes off in search of her killer – not to mention some peace of mind.
Turns out the assault has left the guy, named Leonard (”L.A. Confidential”’s Pearce), with a severe case of short term memory loss; he can recall his life before the incident, but is unable to remember anything that happened more than 15 minutes ago. Christopher ran with his sibling’s idea, and added another layer of cheekiness to his script (which won the screenwriting award at this year’s Sundance) by telling the story in reverse.
Ingeniously, he has Leonard taking Polaroids of people and places, and tattooing clues on his body, so he can carry out his investigation. Got that? ”I’m always paranoid about my lack of intelligence,” says Pearce, laughing. ”And when I met with Chris, I said ‘I’ve got to read this again. It’s not that I don’t understand it. But, whoa.”’