Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

"Good"

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives Review


Stunning cinematography goes a long way to making this surreal, difficult film watchable. Although there are moments of vivid honesty and a continual stream of light comedy, the story is fairly impenetrable for Western audiences.

In his isolated farmhouse, Boonmee (Saisaymar) is dying from a kidney condition. So his sister-in-law Jen (Pongpas) and nephew Tong (Kaewbuadee) come to spend time with him as he's cared for by his Laotian farmhand Jaai (Kugasang). Then one night at dinner, they're joined by Boonmee's wife Huay (Aphaiwonk), who died 19 years earlier, as well as their son Boonsong (Kulhong) who disappeared several years later and has now become a kind of monkey-man.

And when his death gets closer, Boonmee wants to be taken back to an isolated cave.

The paranormal elements of this film are so matter-of-fact that they're actually funny. Everyone's a little unsettled by Huay's ongoing presence, and no one quite knows what to say to the furry Boonsong. (You almost get the feeling that this could be remade as an Adam Sandler comedy.) But of course writer-director Weerasethakul has much more serious things in mind, commenting on the connection between humans, animals and plants while playing with mythological imagery that surely means more to those familiar with Thai culture.

Tonally, the film is virtually silent, with an almost subliminal soundtrack and minimal dialog. The camera is mostly still as well, taking in scenes with a lush sense of colour, sunshine and shadows. The result is eerie and dark, with a mystical sense of reality that expands far beyond the natural world. In addition to ghosts and monkey-men, there's also a talking catfish that has an intimate encounter with a princess (Mongkolprasert). But how all this links to Boonmee's story remains aloof and untouchable.

Clearly, the idea is that Boonmee's illness has drawn these spirits to him, so it's understandable that city-slickers Jen and Tong are a bit uncomfortable about all of this. And the film is made in a way that feels almost painfully slow and indulgent. But there are also wacky moments that make us laugh out loud, and some achingly beautiful imagery that will be very difficult to forget.



Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

Facts and Figures

Genre: Foreign

Run time: 114 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 1st September 2010

Box Office USA: $0.2M

Distributed by: Strand Releasing

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 89%
Fresh: 81 Rotten: 10

IMDB: 6.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Producer: Simon Field, Keith Griffiths,

Starring: as Tong, Jenjira Pongpas as Jen, Thanapat Saisaymar as Boonmee, Natthakarn Aphaiwonk as Huay

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