Monday, 21 February 2022


Tilda Swinton's Jessica find herself in Colombia, visiting her sick sister (who believes she's bed-ridden as recompense for some unsourceable transgression) and making half-hearted enquiries about refrigeration units for a barely noted orchid business. Jessica's attempts to sleep in this new environment are thwarted by an unprompted crack that she later describes to a helpful audio engineer as sounding like a rumble from the core of the earth. Although we are shown specific circumstances in which only Jessica can hear these intrusive reverberations, they do seem able to exert some purchase on the physical world - at least enough, in one instance, to elicit a chorus of car alarms. Jessica represents an alien element in the film's opening passages; a person rudely imported into this milieu who, nevertheless, is slowly slipping out of alignment with her own world and disappearing into this one. 

Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Memoria is built out of held frames, the director and his cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom using a flattened space, unmotivated by camera movement, to create vignettes. Swinton creeps across these frames. Her Jessica is always reticent, a trespasser slowly prodding further and further into places they don't seem convinced they should be occupying. Weerasethakul also cranks up diegetic sound far beyond typically acceptable levels; the hums and rumbles directing the eye to a detailing that gradually swallows Jessica up. The audience is prodded to tune into this stillness, understanding these rhythms as extant incident rather than a plotted bread crumb. Weerasethakul never betrays this somnolent trust either; he allows his audience to abandon their search for obvious meaning or direction, sinking into scenes and situations to the extent that they are then able to conjure up a sense memory - a smell, maybe - associated with their own experience of having existed within similar moments. 

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