Film Review: Cemetery of Splendour

The distance between the living and the dead can sometimes be negligible and the lines between waking life and dreaming occasionally blur. The belief in our connection to the spirit world is something which has been part of religions, cultures and personal beliefs for centuries. In his new film, Cemetery of Splendour, Apichatpong Weerasethakul mixes reality with hallucination in order to comment on social issues in Thailand.

Jen (Jenjira Pongpas) volunteers at a new hospital which has been set-up to look after soldiers who’ve been struck down by a mysterious sleeping disease. She befriends Keng (Jarinpattra Rueangram), a young psychic who helps relatives communicate with the insensible men. Despite being newly married to an American, Jen becomes attached to a handsome young soldier (Banlop Lomnoi). After discovering a notebook of strange writings she begins to suspect that the peculiar illness is related to the ancient site below the building.

Once again Weerasethakul merges the magical and the mundane beautifully, turning everyday normality into something weird and wonderful. On the surface it should be a fairly uneventful and plodding film but he conjures up a strange world which exists somewhere between reality and the spiritual. Cemetery of Splendour is a fascinating and unusual film which rewards patience and an ability to believe in the unknown.

Cemetery of Splendour is out in cinemas from Friday.

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