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The Crack Magazine



Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Stars: Tilda Swinton, Juan Pablo Urrego, Elkin Díaz, Jeanne Balibar

Tilda Swinton in airy, slightly distracted mode proves the perfect vessel for Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s brand of wryly surreal, haunting and meditative cinema in this, his first picture outside his native Thailand.

She is Jessica, an English botanist living in Colombia. She is disturbed one day by a loud metallic thudding noise in her head.  As Jessica goes about her business, visiting her sister in hospital and studying fungi at the local university, the noise continues to sound intermittently, unheard by those around her. At the university she meets a professor (Balibar) who shows her a skull which has had a hole bored into it, presumably as part of a medical process to remove bad memories. Then Jessica visits a sound engineer Hernan (Urrego), who in a strangely gripping scene, tries to replicate the sound. Later Hernan seem to disappear, but Jessica, when making her way to the archaeological site in the jungle where the skull was unearthed, encounters another Hernan (Diaz), a fishmonger who claims to remember everything that has ever happened.

Could it be the sound is an echo or inherited memory from the native Colombian people’s turbulent past? Weerasethakul leaves all this open to interpretation in a typically thematically porous and languidly-paced picture which sees the director revisiting his pet themes of time and memory. As usual viewer involvement will be dependent on their willingness to surrender to his hypnotically tranquil vision. The final ‘explanatory’ shot will divide those who have committed.

Memoria is released 14th January

David Willoughby

Follow David on @DWill_Crackfilm