Review: Cemetery Of Splendour

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC Review: Cemetery Of Splendour

A spiritual meditation on life and love from Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the director of Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.

Jenjira Pongpas also returns from Weerasethakul’s Palme d’Or winner to stars as a lonely woman who volunteers at a tiny hospital, helping to take care of wounded soldiers and knitting them socks. After forming a special bond with a particular patient, her daily wanderings around the city, its parks and its temples, lead her on a mystical, personal journey.

The film’s distant, lingering cinematography and undisturbed peace echo Jenjira’s solitude, and scenes of a sleepy city segue seamlessly into an almost psychedelic spectrum of greens, blues and reds. Her habitual routine then makes way for a hallucinatory collision of past, present and future, and these dreamlike sequences are presented with the same detachment, affording both a sense of realism and a desperate sadness to Jenjira’s vivid imagination.

The film’s meandering narrative, glacial pace and still solemnity won’t appeal to everyone, and the disengaged style perhaps makes it harder to connect with the characters, but it works nicely as a thoughtful human study without getting too heavy.

Cemetery of Splendour (ThaiRak Ti Khon Kaen) is a 2015 Thai drama film written, produced, and directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. The plot revolves around a spreading epidemic of sleeping sickness where spirits appear to the stricken and hallucination becomes indistinguishable from reality. The epidemic is used as a metaphor for personal and Thai societal issues.

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