While the name Aphichatphong Wirasetthakun may not be familiar to most, on the festival circuit and within cinephile circles he’s considered to be one of the best filmmakers currently working in independent cinema. The Thai director’s most famous work, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2010, but he’s made numerous award-winning features and shorts. In his new film, Memoria, He takes all the elements from his career and condenses them into a question.
Jessica (Tilda Swinton) is a Brit who owns a business selling plants in Medellín. She’s in Bogota to visit her sister, who is in hospital with a mysterious illness. Awoken by a loud bang, which only she can hear, Jessica is left confused and disoriented. She goes in search of answers, roaming the streets and buildings of the city. Along the way, meeting a sound engineer (Juan Pablo Urrego) who recreates the noise and visiting a mountainous town where a man (Elkin Díaz) claims to remember everything he sees.
Memoria is a film which will either thrill or perplex, depending on your point of view. It’s intentionally slow. Swinton lopes though ever scene, moving as if following a predestined path. This is in stark contrast to Jessica’s mind which is always spinning. Wirasetthakun spins a web around the themes of recollection and memory. How a country deals with its past and how those echoes travel to the present day.
Memoria will be released in UK cinemas on 14 January.