Amnesia Movies


Do you enjoy movies about amnesia?

This page presents a list of recommended "amnesia movies" for your consideration. We provide reviews of each of the amnesia movies below, to provide a little bit of guidance. As far as we know, there is no larger amnesia movie resource on the Internet.

You always know a sit com has hit the skids when the writers do an amnesia episode. You know, bang em on the head with a 2 by 4 and all is forgotten, wait 30 minute and do it again to reverse the process. Strangely enough, the amnesia device has been used effectively in a number of movies, and we have put a small collection of them together. We know there's a few more out there, but we can't remember their titles. Help us out, will you?

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

In 2004, one of the best movies about memory loss was released. It was titled Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and it's about people who willingly have parts of their memory erased. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a surreal science fiction movie that's both understated and poignant. The brilliant Charlie Kaufmann deserves a lot of the credit for making this such a great film, since he wrote the screenplay, but it's also competently directed by Michael Gondry. Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet co-star, but the real performance gem in this one is Tom Wilkinson, who's always a marvel to behold.

The Fisher King

The Fisher KingDo you remember when Robin Williams was a great actor? I know it's hard, but consider The Fisher King, which is a brilliant little Terry Gilliam film about a jerk of a radio host (Jeff Bridges) seeking redemption. The Robin Williams character is the homeless man with amnesia. The two female leads steal the show though: Mercedes Ruehl and Amanda Plummer. If you've never seen this 1991 feel-good movie, you should. You'll wonder why no one makes feel-good movies anymore, in fact.

The Man without a Past

The Man without a Past is an unforgettable amnesia movie by the acclaimed Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki. His sparse but funny dialogue is accentuated by grim scenery and grimmer characters. The Man without a Past will remind you of a Jim Jarmusch movie made in an indiscernible language.

The main character is a nameless man (Markku Peltola) who is beaten senseless as he exits the Helsinki train station. With gelp from other downtrodden Helsinkians, he takes up residence in a sea container and tries to build a present without his past. A similarly lost Irma who works for the Salvation Army takes pity on him, and an awkward romance ensues. This is quickly squelched when the police discover his past and his wife.

Amnesia MoviesIrma (Kati Outinen) won best actress for her performance at the 2002 Cannes Festival. Kaurismaki was awarded the Grand Prix. We highly recommend his classic The Leningrad Cowboys Go America if you've never seen it. 97 minute. Finish w/subtitles. 2002. Rated PG13.

Memento

Leonard has lost his short term memory. (It's a condition called "anterograde amnesia", making this one of the only movies on this page that could be considered part of the "anterograde amnesia movies" category. 50 First Dates would count too, but I just can't bring myself to recommend that movie on this site.) He compensates with Polaroid photos, lots of notes, and tattoos of  the important stuff on his chest and limbs. He can remember his wife, and he recalls that someone named Sammy Jenks has killed her. By accumulating clues, he hopes to avenge her death. Not any easy task, when the clues dissolve before you can write them down. Is Natalie trying to help him, or is she just setting him up to avenge her boyfriend's murder? There's a lot of questions here and a random time frame feeds you the answers in a disorderly sequence. If you pay close attention you may be able to solve Leonard's riddle. Directed by Christopher Nolan and adapted from the book Memento Mori. 2000.

Amateur

If you've never seen a Hal Hartley film, Amateur is a great starting point. Martin Donovan wanders into a Manhattan diner, battered and amnesiac with a pocketful of Dutch Guilders. An ex-nun, Isabelle Hubert, interrupts her pornographic writings to tend to him. She takes him home and nurses him, and the pieces of his memory start to emerge. It seems his ex wife, Sophia (Elina Lowensohn from Pulp Fiction), pushed him out a window. He was apparently her handler, drug provider, and producer of her porn movies. His name is Thomas. and he's wanted by an international cartel of mobster accountants. It is all too tangled to describe and very engrossing. 1994. Rated R. 105 minutes. 1/99

Dark City

Dark CityIt's hard to imagine that the brilliant Dark City was released in 1998. It's as fresh and brilliant today as it was then, and you won't believe that's Kiefer Sutherland on screen. William Hurt is excellent too, and the directing and writing from Alex Proyas is more than competent; it's downright virtuoso. Rufus Sewell portrays the main character, who wakes up in a bathtub without his memory. The rest of the plot is almost indescribable.

Oldboy

Time and again we have warned you about Korean films being exceptionally violent. But Oldboy wins the Palm d'Or for unnecessary-squirm-in-your-seat-and-avert-your-eyes brutality in Technicolor. Somebody kidnaps Dae-su, an obnoxious businessman, and locks him in a secured hotel room. Occasionally, his jailers gas him and cut his hair and straighten up the room while he's unconscious. At other times they drug him and infuse his brain with hypnotic suggestions.

For no apparent reason, they dump him in a vacant lot after 15 years of imprisonment. He can't remember much, but a kind sushi waitress takes him home and cleans him up. He sets out to discover what he can about his captors. By methodically eating dumplings across the city, he eventually locates the food source used by his jailers. The delivery boy leads him to his place of entrapment and he wreaks havoc on the place. He gathers some clues but large sections of his memory have been erased, which hinders his search.

Eventually, he finds his tormentor, Woo-jin, a kid whom he had crossed in high school. Revenge takes a far different route than you'd anticipate or ever conceive. If you turned your head during Marathon Man or were uncomfortable with A Clockwork Orange, Oldboy will be too much for you to take. Oldboy is an unbelievable tale that breaches more taboo subjects than a Todd Solondz film. 2004. Directed by PARK chan-wook who took the best directors prize at Canne for this gem. This is the second film in his gruesome revenge trilogy. If you can handle this, look for Sympathy for Mr. Vengance.

 

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