director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul (uncle boonmee who can recall his past lives)
starring: tilda swinton, juan pablo urrego, aida morales, and elkin diaz
REVIEWER: nick tonkin
A Scottish woman, after hearing a loud 'bang' at daybreak, begins experiencing a mysterious sensory syndrome while traversing the jungles of Colombia.
Your personal mileage will vary, absolutely, with Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria.
Glacially paced with a propensity to linger on shots in a meditative yet testing way with the barest of story to link together the segments and scenes Tilda Swinton finds herself in. Memoria is a meditation, though on what seems to depend on the interpretation of the viewer.
In the US, Memoria was distributed in such a way as to allow the film to only play to one audience at a time, as though it was a travelling art installation. This kind of context would suggest something of the kind of experience one could expect to see, which I think is necessary. This is to say, the audience should be warned of the type of experience that they are in for. Having a famous name in Tilda Swinton leading and executive producing is a draw, and suggests that Memoria is indeed a film with a story. However, the Memoria itself would be more suited as an installation in an art gallery, where a sensory, hypnotic experience may be a welcome and interesting exhibit.
Ideas are gently dangled in front of the viewer, only to fade away as if their presence was enough explanation to justify their inclusion. We see elements of, amongst other things: sci-fi, a medical disorder, the melding of narratives/realities, but nothing key to lead the viewer to a resolution or explanation. It’s up to the viewer to interpret the ultimate outcome for Tilda Swinton’s Jessica given their experience with her journey over the course of Memoria’s runtime.
Memoria could be anything from a frustrating experience, to a revelatory one. It depends entirely on the individual viewer. An anomalous vision of director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, this is an interesting and curious result for a film to strive for.