Tilda Swinton in the Cannes film by Apichatpong Weerasethakul – Deadline


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Shown elsewhere than at the Cannes Film Festival and in like-minded surroundings, Memory would play like an almost perfect parody of an art film. Arid, filled with laughable minimalist dialogue, simmering positively in its own creative marvel and with Tilda Swinton, nothing less, in the lead role, this seventh feature film from Thai pet Apichatpong Weerasethakul has the crowd cheering for the premiere. Cannes for a few minutes after its world premiere. But you can easily imagine other viewers seeing bits and pieces of it and believing in it something that was made to laugh easily on Saturday Night Live.

The pretensions of some are the red meat of others, and there are few cinematic practitioners of this kind of high-end gibberish these days more lauded than “Joe” (the director’s nickname), who won the Palme d ‘ Gold at the Cannes Film Festival in 2010 for Uncle Boonmee who can remember his past lives and can’t do anything wrong with his constituency.

The addition of Swinton to his circle, as well as his move to English dialogue, could expand his audience somewhat. But her performance here is perhaps the most repressed and expressionless, so in her own shell is Jessica, a British woman in the unlikely settings of Medellín and Bogota, Colombia, where she runs a business. growing flowers and caring for her sick sister. In a hospital.

Still, the characters here play a distant role compared to the noises Jessica hears every now and then. Out of nowhere comes a loud thud, loud enough to be alarming but that she only hears through her. In her sleepy, unhurried way, she gets examined by a sound engineer, who tries to recreate the noise, but don’t get too excited about a mysterious story here; it is a film in which the execution of a single panoramic shot represents a big stylistic problem.

The mystery, as it is, is within. There are long scenes in which Jessica sits alone, waiting for the noise to come back, and she hears it again in a restaurant in the presence of her sister and her husband, who do not notice it. There will certainly be some debate among the faithful as to what these noises are and why they occur.

Are they messages sent from the past? Does God send him early warnings of things to come, ominous omens of destruction, signals from the ancients, or just the Earth complaining of being torn apart, as we see happening during the building of a massive tunnel?

Jessica’s cautious search ultimately leads her to a secluded house occupied by a man who values ​​his privacy above all else. He listens at length to this intruder, and what emerges from their exchange reveals a woman reduced to the essentials as well as a man who has long since lost the desire to do anything other than wait. Because something is going to happen.

Faced with the unknown, the existential void, the threat of monsters who make noise from time to time to let us know they are waiting there, most people continue to go about their business.

It all takes two and a quarter hours, largely because the filmmaker does his job with the kinds of things that directors mostly avoid – shots of waiting, listening, rain falling, anything that amplifies the feeling of stillness necessary to receive what one day will undoubtedly happen.

Memory is a noble titillation of a genre which has found favor with sophisticated artists. But it still looks like a cute little game calculated to captivate a few.

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