While Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives scores high praise in the 11th hour at Cannes, Apichatpong Weerasethakul talks about this week’s devastating violence and destruction in the Thai capital.
“I feel worried about my home town in Bangkok because when I was leaving, it was when the peak of the violence was happening, so my mind was more in Thailand,” he told Reuters in an interview. “But now I’m here, I’m doing my job.”
“I hope for the best. Personally I think this kind of thing was bound to happen because of the gap between the poor and underprivileged and the rich,” Weerasethakul said. “Our governments, present and past have been such a mess.”
A 5-star review for Uncle Boonmee from Telegraph UK:
At last, in what has been a rather tepid Competition year at Cannes, a film to inspire: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, by Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, is a fabulous weave of magic. It‚Äôs barely a film; more a floating world. To watch it is to feel many things ‚Äì balmed, seduced, amused, mystified. It‚Äôs to feel that one is encountering a distinctive metaphysics far removed from that on display in most contemporary cinema. Weerasethakul has not only drawn on the themes, landscapes and mood-states he tapped in Blissfully Yours, Tropical Malady and Syndromes And A Century, films that extended the imaginative and emotional grammar of arthouse cinema over the last decade; he has refined them to create his most accessible and most enchanted film to date.
More critical acclaim after the cut.
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is something and a half. If you‚Äôre familiar with Thailand‚Äôs Apichatpong Weerasethakul… then you‚Äôll surely raise an eyebrow when I say that Uncle Boonmee may be his strangest and most mysterious picture yet, juxtaposing the earthly with the fantastic in a way that induces a nearly continuous trance state…
It may take another viewing for me to feel as if I have a handle on what Joe‚Äôs up to, and my grade [B+] may go up or down (more likely up) accordingly. But there‚Äôs no denying that the movie‚Äôs sui generis mundane grandeur makes everything else in this year‚Äôs Competition‚Äîincluding Certified Copy, as much as I loved it‚Äîlook thin and paltry by comparison. Ordinary. It‚Äôs been a long wait, but someone finally added the extra.
The wonderfully titled Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is a beautifully entrancing film‚Ä¶ simple in story but complex in structure and subtext, and likely to deeply please those who are fans of director-artist Apichatpong Weerasethakul…
The film is a beautifully assembled affair, with certain scenes staged with painterly composure, and also increasingly moving as the subtle story develops. Plus Apichatpong Weerasethakul is not afraid of adding in moments of surreal humour ‚Äì often laugh-out-loud moments for that ‚Äì which helps the pacing of the film.
The film was shot in the North-East of Thailand, and the lush and visually arresting jungle backdrop is as much a character of the film as the actors in the foreground. In the section devoted to the disfigured princess (Wallapa Mongkolprasert) she is filmed wading into the pool beneath a beautiful waterfall as she talks to a catfish/water-ghost. The sequence is painterly in composition as it takes reference to classic Thai cinema.
Similarly Uncle Boonmee‚Äôs final trek through the jungle to a hidden cave is visually arresting as well as being deeply poignant, with amateur actor Thanapat Salsaymar appropriately low-key and modest. His simplicity and honesty works perfectly alongside the more surreal aspects of the film…
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is an elegantly artistic film that is both visually arresting and engagingly entertaining. Certainly not a film for everyone ‚Äì but certainly one that will stay with an audience once watched.
…a late-competition dark horse emerged Friday with Thai film “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives”, by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, a director known as much for his tongue-twisting name as for his lush, enigmatic movies. Aside from being the entry with the most smile-inducing title, Weerasethakul’s new film is, like his previous Cannes entry “Tropical Malady” (which took home the third-place Jury Prize in 2004), a work of voluptuous imagination and teasing humour…
“Uncle Boonmee” infuses its examination of love, loss and spirituality with strong supernatural currents as well as cheeky, vaguely Lynchian touches of horror and science fiction… unlike Godard with his Film Socialisme, for example, Weerasethakul invites you into his strikingly composed visions; ghosts drift into view from a corner of the screen, silhouettes of lurking figures can be spotted in the dark, sultry jungle, and various human and animal creatures interact nonchalantly through wryly comic dialogue and physical contact.
Uncle Boonmee is a challenging film, but one that lulls you under its spell and rewards you with memorable imagery. Its offbeat blend of poetry and mystical forces both menacing and nurturing also seems like it could be a good fit for the tastes of jury president Tim Burton.