‘Memory’ is one of the most unique and extraordinary films I have seen in many years. It’s been weeks since I’ve seen it and while I struggled with it initially, and certainly didn’t engage emotionally, I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. But even now that I start writing this review, I couldn’t give you a definite answer on whether I liked it or not, never mind recommending it.
At times, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s latest seems more like an art installation than a piece of cinema. With a hypnotic pace, almost daring you to stay awake, ‘Memoria’ is a haunting and meditative detective story, which perhaps makes it seem more entertaining than it really is. Because make no mistake, this is not an entertaining movie, nor was it intended to be, but there is a certain dreaminess to its sleepy beats that you can get lost in.
In the great tradition of Béla Tarr, Andrei Tarkovsky, and more recent exponents such as Carlos Reygadas and Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Apichatpong Weerasethakul is a master of slow, contemplative cinema. ‘Memoria’ takes the theory and technique of slow motion cinema and takes them almost to the limit. There’s literally a scene here where we see a man take a nap.
Tilda Swinton plays Jessica, a woman living in Bogotá, Colombia, who is haunted by a noise that only she can hear. A booming thud that almost sounds like a body hitting concrete. The film hints that she might be grieving, but she would never explicitly state something so narratively conventional. She looks like she works at a university as a researcher, but she’s also starting a flower business. She is also visiting her sister who is sick in the hospital. None of these things really matter. They don’t come together or come together in any meaningful way. We just follow Jessica as she tries to figure out the source of the sound.
Visit an archaeological dig where human remains from thousands of years ago have been discovered. Could this have something to do with the sound? In the film’s most notable scene, she visits Hernán, a sound engineer at the university, and asks him to help her recreate the sound with pre-recorded noises and effects. It’s another long, slow scene as we watch Hernán work methodically. When Jessica goes to visit him again, he is not there, and no one seems to have any recollection of him ever working there.
As you would expect from a movie called ‘Memory’, memory is a key theme. From the simple memory of recent things, through more philosophical questions of nature and humanity, to the deep anthropological notions of deep-rooted popular memory. ‘Memory’ is baffling and incoherent at times. It’s also challenging, beautiful, fascinating, exhausting, and ridiculous. Under the right conditions (complete darkness and blaring headphones), it’s a movie you could let wash over you like a cinematic sonic bath. But in most other conditions it’s a bit difficult.
The film will be released in a rather lovely dual-format special edition, which comes with an especially limited-run booklet that includes a collection of interviews and articles, including notes from British writer/screenwriter Tony Rayns, plus cast and crew biographies. , and more behind the scenes. photos and stills from the production.
The disc comes with a 30 minute question and answer session with Tilda Swinton talking to Simon Field at the ICA as they talk about Memoria, from the start of the film, how she got involved, filming in Colombia and how the public has received the film. all over the world. This is followed by a new Q&A with Peter Bradshaw talking to Swinton and director Apichatpong Weerasethakul in a fascinating insight into the making of ‘Memory’.
There’s also an interesting panel discussion between Simon Field, Tilda Swinton, director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, producer Diana Bustamante, editor Lee Chatametikool, and sound designer Akritchalerm Kalayanamitr, as each offers their own expertise on the making of ‘Memoria ‘.
There is a behind-the-scenes short film showing three specially selected sequences from the location shoot of ‘Memoria’ in Colombia. The album is completed with a special selection of behind-the-scenes images from ‘Memoria’.
To emit: Tilda Swinton, Elkin Diaz, Juan Pablo Urrego Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul Writer: Apichatpong Weerasethakul Published by: sovereign movies Certificate: 12A Duration: 136 minutes Release date: 8 August 2022