Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (NR) ★★★★

Grasping a film such as this one may require some major attention from the viewer himself and even when the attention is there, frustration may come about as a result of the film's abstractedness and non-linear narrative. This is all not so surprising when you consider Apichatpong Weerasethakul's filmography and his constant acknowledgment of nature and the way it binds to us as human beings. Have I lost you yet? snoozing? That's how some folks might react when watching Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.

The plot involves a dying man who lives in an unknown countryside with his wife, son and Thai helper. It gets complicated when a ghost-like monkey and dead family member shows up one night to his front porch. We are then transported into a world that is spiritual and essential to understanding the world Weerasethakul conjures. There's a subplot involving a horny catfish and a princess, a cave sequence that will have you scratching your head and an ambiguous finale that will most likely have you thinking for days on in about what just happened. It's a puzzle and one that has -for some- a comatose pace to its structure. Weerasethakul has always had a knack for taking his time and slowly developing in narrative.

It was surprising to watch Weerasethakul's film getting the palme d'or at Cannes earlier this year. It must have hit a real chord with the jury headed by Tim Burton- who was very open in his acclaim for the film. However coming out of the screening I attended earlier this year, there was a kind of head scratching vibe in the air. It was as if Weerasethakul's film had not only confused to the general public as to its overall praise but actually angered them in frustration with what they had witnessed. After all, a word of caution is always necessary before going into any of his films, because this is really the definition of an art film, capital A in art of course. I dug it for the its mystery and its dream like tendencies.