MEMORIA gets 6.5/10 Dreamlike trance

Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Starring Tilda Swinton, Juan Pablo Urrego, Elkin Diaz


This Apichatpong Weerasethakul film plays out similarly to any other one of his films, that are unique for their tranquil pacing and focus on mood over a tangible story. But what makes Memoria stand out now in his oeuvre is the central “thud” sound that keeps the viewers on edge for quite a lot of the film – very unlike his previous films.

Jessica (Tilda Swinton) is experiencing an unusual and unexplainable thudding sound, that she tries to replicate with the help of a sound engineer. It seems to be driving her crazy, though also seems to be driving her to an unusual destination, one that plays out like a dream.

Memoria is impressive for its largeness and how it uses that to envelope the audience into its own dream, though it also comes across as very vague – perhaps that’s not a criticism, as it seems to be what the film is going for. It has such an ambient atmospheric quality, though it’s probably not praise to say this is the kind of film that makes you dip in and out of its daydreaming as the characters themselves seem to be daydreaming – it’s as if the film itself is daydreaming.

Despite having such an extremely relaxed quality, it also seems to be the scariest film of the year, due to the thudding noises that will certainly trigger people who are sensitive to jump scares. This whole vague saga ends with a pretty ballsy move and it’s pretty audacious to see, but the film just seems to offer up too much to think about while not doing too much thinking of its own.

This is an extremely ponderous film, with vast moments of characters simply sitting and thinking. It’s hard to recommend such a film that treats its substance with such an ethereal quality, acting as if it’s a Rorschach test and each individual person’s reaction to it is equally valid. The vibe of Memoria is quite relaxing (if you can get over the thud sounds) and it’s all astonishingly and carefully shot, but the film seems to take more than it gives.


Memoria plays at UWA’s Somerville Auditorium from Monday, January 24 to Sunday, January 30. For more information and to buy tickets head to perthfestival.com.au

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