In just a few short days Memoria will premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, signalling the grand return of former Palme d’Or winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul to the official section. Though distributor NEON has yet to set a release date, they’ve been good enough to air the trailer online this morning, promising more of the director known as Joe’s inimitable brand of slow cinema.
His latest work marks his first foray into English-language filmmaking, as he shifts focus from his native Thailand to the jungles of Colombia (which may be the region of the world that looks the most like the one he left behind). There, a Scottish expat portrayed by Tilda Swinton pursues a life of tranquility and simplicity, but an external force soon intrudes on her inner peace.
One morning, she hears a noise of mysterious origin (“like a rumble from the core of the Earth”) and can’t get it out of her mind. The film follows her effort to discern the source of the enigmatic sound, an existential wander taking her through a recording studio for some tinkering with audio and a hut tucked away in the wilderness.
Those familiar with Weerasethakul’s style know what to expect: long takes in wide shots, minimal dialogue and movement for maximum meditative stillness. He appears to continue his pursuit of his pet themes here as well, focusing on the thin membrane separating the natural and manmade worlds from one another.
Hopefully, NEON will get this one out before the year’s up, with the encouragement of a rapturous reception undoubtedly soon to come. Weerasethakul’s films make for perfect post-lockdown back-to-the-movies selections, the carefully constructed landscape of sound best savored through auditorium amplifiers.
Published 12 Jul 2021
By Matt Thrift
The Thai master from the little town of Khon Kaen on the movies and directors that inspired him.
By Vadim Rizov
Thai master Apichatpong Weerasethakul returns with a stunning meditation on a national and political crisis.
The 2020 release will be Joe’s widest North American run to date.