Cannes 74: ‘Memoria’ Review
Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s first foreign language film is yet another example of a director who does not function outside of his national borders. However, this catastrophic failure does not stem from the nuances of the Spanish language, as was the recent case with Kore-eda’s trip to France. In fact, the screenplay is thin and dialogue is scarce (the director’s name is probably is longer).
Weerasethakul is parsimonious with his shots, cutting his attentive framing only when the narration benefits from a change of angles. The intentional stylistic and narrative slowness, composed of fancy but dry and sterile shots in an array of uncertainly pointless scenes, are supported in the first half by the audience trying to understand the clues to decipher what’s going on. A curiosity that would have been better unanswered.
As the film unfolds, we try to put the pieces together, gathering as much information about the characters as possible. We try. Well, I did not succeed. Here’s what I got: Tilda Swinton plays Jessica, an orchid farmer who visits her hospitalised sister in Colombia. She befriends a sound technician and also randomly gets involved with an archaeological excavation. She does so while being tormented by a powerful metallic thud that prevents her from sleeping, which only her (and us, sigh) can hear. Where is this sound coming from? What is causing it? Buckle your seatbelts for the second half of the picture, where all your attempts to understand the plot and answer these questions will perpetually vanish. When looking for a special fridge to keep her orchids, the clerk tells her that inside it, “time stops”. I can say the same for the cinema theatre I was in. Not to spoil anything, but the conclusion is one of the greatest fuck you’s in the history of cinema. Because of this, I missed a live concert by Bill Murray, and wasted over two hours of my life that nobody will ever give back to me. At least I understand why this garbage is titled Memoria. Unfortunately, I’ll never get to forget it.