The films of acclaimed Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul could be categorised as that most intellectual and elusive genre: ‘slow cinema’. But it’s true that his films have also achieved a degree of success outside the confines of that niche; his films regularly picked up festival prizes before his most famous work, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, went on to win the Palme d’Or in 2010. Memoria is his first film in the English language, and is just as mysterious, atmospheric and sensorial as we’ve come to expect from the director.
Tilda Swinton plays Jessica, a British woman living in Colombia. Amidst her daily comings and goings (visiting her unwell sister in hospital, meeting friends for dinner), she is haunted by a strange, percussive sound that no one else seems to hear. From this set-up, Weerasethakul conjures a dream-like enigma where time, identity, and memory float, refract and overlap.
Memoria carries such a vivid sense of place that there is a feeling of getting lost in the world that it creates; the immersive soundscape is clearly the work of someone who understands the potential power of sound in cinema. Weerasethakul’s films are sometimes compared to those of Andrei Tarkovsky or David Lynch. High praise, but Weerasethakul moves at his own pace; if you can slow down and meet him there, you too may be transfixed.
China, Colombia, France, Mexico, Qatar, Switzerland, Thailand, UK
185 Films, Sovereign