Walter (Matt Gaetano Levin) finds himself on a sidewalk in the middle of a neighborhood. Unaware of who he is or how he got there, he eventually makes his way to Dr. Telekenakis (Jeffrey Scott), a hypnotist who helps Walter recover what little memories he can (first off being Walter’s name). As their sessions continue, and Walter remembers more, his walk down memory lane reveals a more sinister implication, and everything he knows is thrown even further into confusion.
When Stolen Memories opened in sepia tint, I thought to myself, “I really hope they have a reason for this, and just aren’t playing with effects.” To the film’s credit, the visual choice is a functional one, as the film ponders a couple different timelines for out main character, and the image changes from sepia to full color to black-and-white, depending on what segment is being explored. It’s a nice visual shorthand to show you that something is different now, and not, as I first feared, just something that looked “neat.”
Though you learn somewhat how and why Walter loses his memory, and I don’t want to spoil the film by revealing too much, there is enough ambiguity to leave me wanting to know a little bit more. His memory loss is not an accident, basically, though what he had done that warranted such a treatment is less clear. It’s nothing new for films to ambiguously portray a future of unrelenting oppression from some government or governing body, and with the number of films I see tackling the subject, coupled with the always mystery-friendly amnesiac main character, I do find myself asking if the stories I keep seeing are unique ideas to the filmmakers themselves, or if they’re purposefully trying to fit into this sci-fi sub-genre.
In this case, it hits all the right notes, but it is also a case of being just another variation of an increasingly prevalent sci-fi song. Which I’m sure you could say about almost any film nowadays; how many truly original cinematic ideas exist? Still, variations can be highly successful, failures or just comfortable and competent.
Stolen Memories is in the last category; it’s well-shot, the acting is quality and the mystery at its heart just interesting enough to keep you involved until the end, but it’s not the sort of film you run out and tell your friends that they need to see. It won’t ruin your day, but it won’t make it either. It’s just good, which honestly can be seen as more of a compliment than it sounds, because it’s not all that easy to make a good film.
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