Syndromes and a Century

"Extraordinary"

Syndromes and a Century Review


Amongst the most promising and enigmatic of young filmmakers, Thailand's Apichatpong Weerasethakul (he's given us express permission to call him "Bob") has been toying with the essence of human behavior and falling in love for three films so far. Unpredictable and smitten with time alteration, Weerasethakul's films are never easily readable and are constantly adrift in thick clouds of metaphysical allure. That being said, 2005's Tropical Malady didn't seem wholly successful, its disjunctive narrative hitting rough patches in its dreamy transitions. No matter; whatever may have been rough or unreadable in Malady has been smoothed out in Weerasethakul's latest, Syndromes and a Century.

Inspired by his parents' initial meeting and slowly-built romance, the film is split in half like duel panoramas, each full-bodied and with their own array of who's-its, what's-its, and how's-thats. The first half takes place around the time of the filmmaker's birth, flourished with a more colorful, hazy pallet. Dr. Toey (Nantarat Sawadikkul) floats through hospital corridors and the surrounding terrain, only really being bothered to deal with trifles and gently-approached flapdoodles. Besides interviewing Dr. Nohng (Jaruchai Iamaram), a military medic, Toey also sustains a marriage proposal from a shy orderly, a flashback to an affair with an orchid specialist and a conversation with a monk who eats too much chicken, makes potions for menstrual flow, and tries to scam meds for his order. There's also a dentist who sings karaoke to his patients and doubles as a town-celebrated crooner with designs on a monk who once had aspirations to be a DJ.

The second half, imagined during present-day technologically-sterilized zones in a high-rise medical center, basically retraces these lines but colors outside the lines with different crayons. The dentist isn't so forthcoming, Dr. Nohng has a fiancée, and the shy orderly has seemingly become more withdrawn. The fluidity of the humid first half is matched and the moments of natural beguilement (Buddha statues, trees swaying in the breeze) are replaced by whirling machines, scheduled maintenance, and an industrial vacuum/vent that might be a portal to the afterlife.

To decipher such a divine lamentation would be difficult and admittedly it still leaves this reviewer in a daze of heavenly imagery without many answers. Commissioned by the New Crowned Hope Festival, which has also commissioned films by Jim Jarmusch and Hao Hsiao-hsien, Syndromes strikes me as the most magical and hypnotic film to be released in some time, with an unquestionable distinction of being the filmmaker's best work to date and one of the year's best films. Aided by cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, who worked on Weerasethakul's breakout film Blissfully Yours, the filmmaker has found a sublime diorama of both the living world and the untouchable ethereal. Space and time take precedence over plot and character, giving Syndromes an otherworldly aura that makes it an essential piece of cinematic art. Like the swaying trees that outline the medical center or the imploding glow of the Thai town that reflects off the dentist's glasses, its force is allergic to definition.

Aka Sang sattawat.



Syndromes and a Century

Facts and Figures

Run time: 105 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 13th June 2007

Distributed by: Strand Releasing

Production compaines: Backup Films, Centre National de la Cinématographie

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Fresh: 37 Rotten: 5

IMDB: 7.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

Advertisement
A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.