Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Original title: Loong Boonmee Raleuk Chat
Thailand/United Kingdom/France/Germany/Spain/The Netherlands, 2010. Kick the Machine, Illuminations Films, Anna Sanders Films, The Match Factory, Geißendörfer Film- und Fernsehproduktion, Eddie Saeta S.A., Fonds Sud Cinéma, Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, Ministère des Affaires étrangères et du Développement International, World Cinema Fund, Hubert Bals Fund, Ministry of Culture Thailand, Office of the Contemporary Art and Culture, ZDF/Arte, Haus der Kunst, Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, Animate Projects Limited. Screenplay by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, inspired by the book by Phra Sripariyattiweti. Cinematography by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom. Produced by Simon Field, Hans W. Geissendorfer, Keith Griffiths, Lluis Minarro, Michael Weber, Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Production Design by Akekarat Homlaor. Costume Design by Chatchai Chaiyon, Buangoen Ngamcharoenputtasri. Film Editing by Lee Chatametikool. Cannes Film Festival 2010. Independent Spirit Awards 2010. Toronto International Film Festival 2010.
A woman and her son come from the city to a small village to stay with her brother-in-law who is dying of kidney failure. One night at dinner they are visited by the apparition of his late wife and her sister, which is followed by the appearance of his son, who disappeared years ago and is now transformed into a monkey spirit with beaming laser-like red eyes. From there the film veers completely into the spiritual as we go through many of the dying man’s past lives, with director Apichatpong Weerasethakul skirting the line between the physical world and the spiritual in a film rich with hypnotic imagery and magic realism. Those whom we in the snobby art world refer to as “narratively oriented” will be totally turned off by it—there are times when Weerasethakul’s sense of storytelling simply makes no sense—but others will be completely won over by the dreamy visuals and the sense of romanticism in its non-linear way of exploring the human soul. Then there’s a lengthy scene of a woman copulating with a fish that you simply don’t want to miss. Images of a dusky forest inhabited by giant apelike creatures with beaming eyes are simply unforgettable in a film whose sensual pleasures completely make up for its frustratingly puzzling style.