Andrea’s film review – Memoria

Memoria – Review by Andrea Carnevali

A woman from Scotland, while traveling in Colombia, begins to notice strange sounds. Soon she begins to think about their appearance. On at Chiswick Cinema this week.

Even if you’re not familiar with Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s “conceptual films”, you’ll be able to tell exactly what sort of thing you’ve stumbled into within the first few minutes of Memoria.

The director has been called by some critics the “David Lynch of Asia“, a title that makes him sound a lot more exciting than in fact I have found him to be,  and this is his first work outside Thailand, half in English and half in Spanish (giving the chance to Tilda Swinton to showcase her language skills).

More than a film, this feels in fact like a mindfulness session, in which the audience gets mesmerised (or utterly bored) by a series of wide static shots, as the slow pace takes over your senses (… or knocks you down into a deep sleep).

It is clearly a piece of work that requires patience (a quality which I’m afraid I’m rather lacking).

It will frustrate you or inspire you, depend in on your state of mind and your willingness to go with it, as it’s clearly something that is trying to evoke a mood more than an actual story.

It is described as “an exploration of memory and the human condition”, but as far as I am concerned, I found it impenetrable. In the end the lack of a real plot and the quiet and hypnotic nature of this “meditation” (I can’t even bring myself to call it “film”… hence the lack of star rating here) was too trying for me.

Not only did it not “connect with my soul” as it did for some of those real (high-brow) critics out there, but often I found the intentionally slow pace almost a parody of itself.

Let’s put it this way, it’s not the kind of thing you want to watch late at night… unless of course you suffer from insomnia (like Tilda Swindon in it), in which case it might do wonders.

What I found fascinating however is the way this film is being released: basically it will never come out on DVD or any streaming platforms, but it will only be shown in cinemas and will move from week to week from arthouse to arthouse, in perpetuity, making the film (there you go… I’ve just called it “film”) something special which will slowly gain the status of an arthouse rarity…. Or at least that’s the hope.

As it happens it’s playing at the Chiswick Cinema this week-end.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.

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