• Golden Globe Awards

Memoria (Thailand)

Thailand’s premier auteur director, Apichatpong Weerasethakul was back in competition at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival with Memoria, and with a personal contribution to the Neon omnibus film, The Year of The Everlasting Storm. He was the only talent with two titles in Cannes’ main selection this year.
With Memoria, Weerasethakul, the winner of the 2013 Palme d’Or for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recount His Past Lives, has made his long-awaited first feature shot outside his native Thailand.
Weerasethakul spent months in Colombia researching his project, which, by his own admission, is a product of an obsession with South America.
Weerasethakul’s movies defy plot summary or easy categorization; they are surreal, following the logic of a dream, and this one in no exception.
The intentionally perplexing tale stars Tilda Swinton, arguably the world’s most adventurous actor, playing Jessica, a British orchid farmer.
Jessica is already feeling out of place when the story begins, as she abruptly awoken by a deep, explosive thump that materializes out of nowhere. An expatriate botanist based in Medellin, Jessica travels to Bogotá to visit her sister (Agnes Brekke), whose husband puts her in touch with a sound engineer named Hernán (Juan Pablo Urrego).
Describing the noise as “a ball of concrete hitting a metal wall surrounded by seawater” or “a rumble from the core of the Earth,” Jessica considers several options with her new friend, until he manages to imitate it with his soundboard. But that doesn’t get her any closer to the root of the noise, or why it keeps haunting her at the most unexpected moments.
There’s a profound existential anxiety in this haunting, introspective look at one woman’s attempts to uncover the roots of a mysterious sound, which only she can hear.
The explanation for Jessica’s malady might be “Exploding Head Syndrome,” which the director himself had apparently experienced at some point in his life. However, Memoria is not so much interested in the facts of hard science, as it is in exploring a state of mind.
In his own precise, if abstract manner, Apichatpong has made an ecological disaster movie about the danger involved in ignoring the natural state of things and the people who respect it. Memoria is yet another meditative tale about the complex connections (or lack of) between nature, ecology, and human existence.