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Reviews & Ratings for
Syndromes and a Century More at IMDbPro »Sang sattawat (original title)

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61 out of 65 people found the following review useful:

Serenely magical

10/10
Author: Howard Schumann from Vancouver, B.C.
9 October 2006

Funded by the city of Vienna as part of the celebration marking the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth, Syndromes and a Century by Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Blissfully Yours, Tropical Malady), is a visionary masterpiece that blurs the boundaries of past and present and, like the plays of Harold Pinter, explores the subjectivity of memory. It is an abstract but a very warm and often very funny film about the director's recollections of his parents, both doctors, before they fell in love. According to Apichatpong, however, it is not about biography but about emotion. "It's a film about heart", he says, "about feelings that have been forever etched in the heart." Structured in two parts similar to Tropical Malady, the opening sequence takes place in a rural hospital surrounded by lush vegetation. A woman doctor, Dr. Toey (Nantarat Sawaddikul) interviews Dr. Nohng (Jaruchai Iamaram), an ex-army medic who wants to work in the hospital, the two characters reflecting the director's parents. The questions, quite playfully, are not only about his knowledge and experience but also about his hobbies, his pets, and whether he prefers circles, squares or triangles. When asked what DDT (Dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) stands for, he replies, "Destroy Dirty Things".

Like the fragmented recollection of a dream, the film is composed of snippets of memory that start suddenly then end abruptly without resolution. A dentist wants to become a singer and takes an interest in one of his patients, a Buddhist monk whose dream is to become a disc jockey. A fellow doctor awkwardly proclaims his desperate love for Dr. Toey who relates to him a story about an infatuation that she had with an orchid expert who invited her to his farm. A woman doctor hides a pint of liquor inside a prosthetic limb. A monk tells the doctor of some bad dreams he has been having about chickens. A young patient with carbon monoxide poisoning bats tennis balls down a long hospital corridor.

Syndromes and a Century does not yield to immediate deciphering as it moves swiftly from the real to the surreal and back again. Halfway through the film, the same characters repeat the opening sequence but this time it is in a modern high-tech facility and the mood is changed as well as the camera focus. The second variation is less intimate than the first, but there are no overarching judgments about past or present, rural or urban, ancient or modern. Things are exactly the way that they are and the way they are not, and we are left to embrace it all. Towards the end, a funnel inhales smoke for several minutes as if memories are being sucked into a vortex to be stored forever or forgotten. Like this serenely magical film, it casts a spell that is both hypnotic and enigmatic.

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8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Right concentration

9/10
Author: chaos-rampant from Greece
21 May 2013

Vague talk of art nine times out of ten will miss the whole point. Critics will enumerate a few themes, but that is repeating words, knowing one word instead of ten things. The main thing is that here we have a filmmaker who knows what it all is out there, or better said: knows how to sculpt currents of life with a clarity that is neither misty-eyed nor cynical, that is both unwavering gaze of the present and mental awareness of broader cycles. Let's see what is all that.

The film is split in two halves, both centered around a hospital with recurring characters coming and going. The first half is an idyllic countryside reverie with lush tropical foliage looming outside the hospital windows; it is a love song wafting through the quiet summer night, the sound of crickets carried by the breeze, stories of climbing mango trees and reincarnation, sunlight over green pastures. Inside this part there is another story of denied love but look how gentle the emotional handling; it ends with laughter, with no one needlessly wounded or wallowing in misery, with no judgement and no one's soul exposed except a tiny corner tenderly to us.

So the first part is unspooling some lovely mood, simple so you may not think much of the film at this point.

Except we have a second part, again in a hospital, repeats the opening shot of the film but now the pov has been reversed—with us 'looking back' at what was being looked at in the first scene. There are several shifts in this second part. Some obvious ones, in time and mood, the hospital now is modern, the mood is sterile, the jungle out the window is now the concrete boom of the big city. A little less obviously: we now miss the rustic gift of wrapped crispy pork, the small talk of musical dreams with the dentist, no one tells stories about mango trees or reincarnation anymore. There is no love song. Traffic instead of crickets.

To emphasize this bizarre new landscape of life, there is a sequence starting with when we see a legless man crouching on the floor, a bizarre sight intentionally shot this way to jar. People are being fitted with artificial limbs in the basement, and the imagery though now it makes sense is still depressing by contrast to earlier. Now there's carbon monoxide poisoning.

However, other things have not changed. The stone statue of the sitting Buddha is in the same place. The old Buddhist monk still has funny dreams with chicken, still swaps medical advice for herbs that supposedly sooth confused mind. You may appreciate that his memory is better now.

The best part is at the level of perception of things. Until the second segment with the drastic shift ahead, we don't know all that tropical bliss and boredom is going to be in the past. Suddenly we have memories of a past life, colored as more pure because we recall it as more pure. It is a bit of a mystery just how this has happened, in physical terms, how the two worlds fit together, which is for the better; this is not to be reasoned with, the insight is of emotional intellect.

By this I mean a specific thing, a shift in watching. Now the first part seems more pure, the modern second part more depressing which makes the contrast a little mawkish and the film slightly contrived. But that is in large part in the eye.

If you look closer, in the present segment people are no more sullen or hurried, as we'd think normal to show in modern life, than at first. The surrounding world has changed of course, and that does affect the experience of living. Whereas there used to be clean riverwater to bathe one's broken parts in, now the old woman has to conjure the cleansing illusion of healing water. Isn't cinema nothing but a cleansing illusion? It can only have as much effect, as much depth as you let it.

This scene is key. Faced with the old crone, the boy does what? Walks away suspicious of the healing effect. Next to traffic and carbon monoxide poisoning, now there is cynicism. So if you, similarly, turn your back on the healing promise of the film and walk away with just an artful assertion of the effects of modernization, you miss the whole reason behind this.

It all ends with two unforgettable shots of this cinematic healing illusion in actual effect; everything sucked into the roaring void but that is not the end, the parting shot of public gymnastics in a park shows a renewal and zest for it all to start again, an absolutely marvelous moment.

So we've had some expansion of our awareness in the first part because of the freeflow and not knowing where it goes, colored by memory in the second part and contraction as the mind points out logical contrasts between past and present, setting limits to vision because suddenly we define the present by what it's not, the 'purer' past.

Now emptying ourselves of all that in the first of the two shots (samadhi), this last shot rings loud and clear, restoring the world to broader dimensions. It is one of the most transcendent moments in film, equal to the dance scene of another Asian film, Sharasojyu.

In both cases it is not the shot itself, it is the placement, opening our eyes to it after all we've seen. There are no words, no conventional wisdom for the mind to latch onto except breathing in the air of that one exuberant moment of people.

This is what the Buddhist know and cultivate in meditation as prajna or intuitive wisdom, understanding the one root beneath the myriad branches of illusion.

Something to meditate upon.

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17 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

A film about the way that memory feels.

8/10
Author: grantft from Australia
10 December 2006

Here there is no story, no beginning or end. Snippets only of the universal experience of memory and feeling. So banal, so beautiful, the camera looks - often from a distance almost in reverie, at the smallest things in our lives. The camera is in fact a detached "third eye" - seeing what we don't focus on, remembering what we have forgotten. The actors (are they actors?) play out their small parts with humor, grace and and sincere naturalism.

One of a handful of directors using the unique language of film to its fullest doing what no other medium can do.

Touching, funny, hypnotic, complex and simple - Weerasethakul's signature is all over this film - his humanity, his recognition that the unexplainable is present in every ordinary life, that everything is worthy of our attention ...

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Symmetry, Support and Sainthood

7/10
Author: bobt145 from United States
2 September 2010

If only this dream sequence of a film came with a frame, a few moments of lucid guidance. A narrator, even for a brief opening and perhaps an explanatory note on the shift from rural Thailand to urban?

Without a background prep course, we are left wandering.

We are told by reviewers that this is a film about "Joe's" parents, his memories. Oh? Where? Not in the film. Not unless some lengthy Thai passage wasn't translated.

Please, Apichatpong, just a hint and the help of structure. It wouldn't have harmed the feel, the mood, the effect, in any way.

Are the two contrasting sections of the film, rural to urban, concurrent or a gap in time?

Some scenes, disassociated as they may be, are marvelous. The industrial process room, with a snakelike suction tube that would have done Dali proud. The steam, the fumes, whatever the smoky substance, swirling amid the machinery, I could smell the metal in the air.

We are also told by other reviewers that it's one of the Four Best films of the past decade in one poll and THE best in a poll of critics associated with the prestigious Toronto Film Festival.

Really? You can't be serious.

What it truly is? A film of beauty, of quiet, of sly humor, reflection, and a soundtrack of subdued accompaniment that seems to invite introspection in the viewer.

That's not all that bad, if you ask me. But we need a Sherpa beyond the simple edits.

If you do some research you'll find that the film was prohibited from exhibition in Thailand. Four scenes the censors thought objectionable, including a long, yet somewhat passive kiss and the sight of a monk playing guitar.

Strange, these moral critiques coming from country that for decades allowed its capital to become the brothel of the world.

I fear some of the reviews are thus political. And certainly I can't support censorship. But let's get a grip on the difference between support for the filmmaker and sainthood.

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9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Mysteries of reminiscence

8/10
Author: Chris Knipp from Berkeley, California
30 September 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

More for the strictly art-house audience than his previous Tropical Malady, the young Thai auteur's latest is an impressionistic and disorienting series of scenes centering around several different hospitals, and focused on couples, romance, job interviews, and patients. There's a singing dentist who serenades a young Buddhist monk in saffron robe whose teeth he's working on. Later the dentist-songwriter is seen performing for an audience on a fairground stage. A sequence where a potential employee or medical school candidate and an older Buddhist monk are both interviewed by a young woman doctor is repeated in the film's second half, with different camera angles and variations in the dialogue and the tone of the scenes. The film is split down the middle, though not as distinctly as in Weerasethakul's two earlier films. The gentle dental work scene where doctor and patient share their dreams and passions is repeated, only this time the leafy trees and sunshine outside are replaced by a chilling white environment, a woman assistant is present, and no one speaks. Outdoor shots focus on wide country and city spaces, and on leafy trees seen from below with sky beyond. A young man who may have brain damage from carbon monoxide poisoning swats a tennis ball down a hospital corridor. The young man who wants to become a doctor now is one, in white coat, and stares sadly into space in a long static shot. An older woman doctor hides a bottle of whisky in a prosthetic leg and drinks to relax before her weekly appearance on public television. People talk inconclusively of reincarnation. There's a visit to an orchid grower, who buys an orchid from a hospital grounds, and is visited by a woman doctor in his study after he's hung the orchid outside. All this would be annoying and disquieting were the scenes not so gentle, subtle, and evocative. Weerasethakul is an original, no doubt about that. His weddings of image and sound are sometimes numbing, sometimes subtle and enchanting, and always cryptic.

Very good -- as my Beowulf teacher, who happened to be Jean Renoir's son, used to say after a passage of Old English was read -- and what does it mean? There's no simple answer to that. These are reminiscences, we're told (though not in the film itself), of the director's parents, both of them doctors; of their courtship; and of what it was like for him to grow up in the environs of a hospital. Weerasetahakul says that the first half, with its warmer, gentler mood, is for his mother, and the second, where scenes are repeated in brisker and cooler variations and the hospital is an antiseptic urban one, is for his father. Weerasethakul is a bold stylist and a confident setter of moods. But there's not a lot to put together into a narrative, just a scattered set of observations. It's a little bit as if you were watching Koyaanisqatsi, Powaqqatsi and Naqoyqatsi with tiny dialogue scenes.

The film lingers on long shots of exteriors, and glides back and forth in front of a large white Buddha. It returns to a room where prostheses are made and fitted to patients and finds the room filled with smoke (could it be the carbon dioxide the young man suffers from?) which is slowly sucked out by a large funneled pipe, while ominous mechanical music throbs in the background. Don't worry about spoilers here. The ending, a large outdoor aerobics class, concludes and reveals nothing. Syndromes and a Century never unlocks its mysteries, it just casts its spell and departs with a blacked-out screen.

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11 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Gentle, Jarring, Visionary

10/10
Author: erahatch from Baltimore, Maryland
18 September 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

****(some SPOILERS)****

Having seen director Apichatpong Weerasethakul's previous film Tropical Malady and thought it a bit ponderous and somewhat overrated, I walked into a Toronto film-festival screening of "Syndromes..." with low expectations. As a result, the initially playful but ultimately weighty film I saw blew me away all the more.

The early deadpan scenes of Syndromes reminded me quite a bit of a humorous Thai romance, Mon-rak Transistor. Apparently, the flirtations between the shy male and confident female employees of a hospital were inspired by the true-life story behind the directors' parents first meetings. These scenes are heartfelt and contain a whole lot of viable romance and humor, yet are never saccharine. Therefore, when this narrative implodes on itself multiple times in multiple ways -- first with a (quickly abandoned but equally effective) story with the story, and then with a more sleek and modern retelling of the same initial story -- it has a very jarring effect.

By the end of the film, narrative has been largely abandoned for streams of pure imagery that rival Antonioni's Eclipse and Kubrick at his best. For those interested in this kind of cinematic deconstruction, Syndromes is cinema art of the highest order, and packs an unforgettable impact.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Baffling Further

Author: liehtzu from North Thailand
1 November 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Pusan Film Festival Reviews 8: Syndromes and a Century (Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

Perhaps Apichatpong Weerasethakul's too new to the big leagues to come off as stale, as Tsai Ming-liang does - his films continue to surprise and puzzle. It's hard for me to put my finger on why I didn't like "Syndromes and a Century" as much as I was sure I would, given how enamored I am with "Blissfully Yours" and "Tropical Malady" (the latter is one of the best films of the new century). It probably didn't help that I was running on just a little sleep, the film moved incredibly slowly, and the Korean girl beside me was snoring away by the halfway point. I was expecting more of Weerasethakul's strange, lulling magic, but "Syndromes and a Century" seemed banal compared to the last two films. Still, if there's a film of the festival I'd like to see again immediately - barring Hong Sang-soo's latest - it's this one.

From the opening moments you know you're in Weerasethakul territory - a close-up of modest little fellow applying for a rural hospital job as he fields increasingly absurd questions from the female interviewer whose story will be the focus of the film's first half... and after a time a slow camera movement over the balcony to the lush fields and rain forest beyond, and rolling of the credits. The movie's divided into two parts, the first supposedly set in the 1970s and about the director's mother - though you'd glean neither the mother reference or the period setting from watching the film as neither is mentioned, and the setting looks like a rural Thai hospital of the sort you'd find today. A security guard is smitten with the doctor, and she goes on to tell him of a man she may already be in love with, a farmer of rare orchids, and how she met him, in an extended flashback sequence that the director sometimes intentionally confounds with the time period of the telling of the story. The camera drifts around the hospital, where a dentist sings for a monk who at one time wanted to be a disc jockey, and down corridors and along the outside of the hospital, where an ominous low buzzing noise plays over the soundtrack as the camera languidly drifts past outside statues.

In the second half the setting changes. We're now in a massive, sterile, big-city hospital, and the the rest of the film is about the man. At the start of the split the same interview from the beginning repeats itself, though the office and clothing worn by the two is different and there are slight but notable changes in the dialogue. Now the camera is pointed at the doctor conducting the interview, and this is the last time she will feature prominently in the film. After the interview the camera follows him as he goes about his duties and tries to find spare time for his beautiful girlfriend. Conversations recur, but again there are differences in the setting and dialogue. The man sneaks into a room in the basement with his girlfriend (a room used to store prosthetic limbs), followed by a very, very long shot of some kind of ventilation tube sucking smoke out of another room, and finally an outdoor dance aerobics sequence with peppy music. What this all means is anyone's guess.

Few filmmakers achieve Weerasethakul's mastery of the medium and its possibilities after so few films. He knows how to convey a sense of unease and menace through banal actions or images, and he has a singular way of continuing to fold over what little narrative exists in his films until he has an unusual type of origami, the meaning or possible meanings of which the viewer is left to mull over while scratching his or her head upon exiting the theater. "Syndromes and a Century" seemed a little too plain while I watched it, yet I can't help chuckling now and then or stopping midway through a sentence to contemplate it while writing about it. Ingmar Bergman once made a remarkable comment about Andrei Tarkovsky, that Tarkovsky had opened a door to "a room I had always wanted to enter and where he was moving freely and fully at ease." Apichatpong Weerasethakul isn't a Tarkovsky, but he is opening doors; "Syndromes" sticks to the mind in weird ways.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Dig it, man. Be cool.

10/10
Author: theskulI42 from Denver, CO
29 May 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Normally I sing about teeth and gums, but this album is all love songs" With Syndromes & a Century, Apichatpong Weeresethakul sorta-makes his own version of Tarkovsky's Mirror: a fractured, beautiful, cyclical autobiography in cinema. But Tarkovsky's film was concerned with the whole: inward-facing, but dealing with lost innocence, a desperate search for God and the scope of human existence. Early in on his film, Weeresethakul seems much more interested in the part, the details, the specifics, the ground-level, the things you won't notice unless you stop, look and listen.

From the very first shot, the warm, sensual atmosphere present throughout Tropical Malady is all around us again: the weather is impossibly pristine, the sun is shining, the trees are blowing in the breeze, and everyone is speaking in rich, hushed tones. The fact that this section of the film is mined from the mind of the director's childhood at his parents' practice jibes perfectly with what we see on screen: there's a gentle, nostalgic perfection to these scenes; I'm sure this is how every day is when he thinks back, and the camera, like a child, has a tangible presence in the frequent "adult" discussions, but is generally ignored by the subjects of the gaze as a non-entity. It's as if the young Apichatpong had a camera, and now he's looking part at the conversations he witnessed but didn't understand at the time, filtered through the sweet vibe he gets when he looks back.

The other unexpected thing apparent right off the bat is how amusing the film is. Weeresethakul is secretly, quite possibly, the most approachable "arthouse" director out there, and one of the initial scenes involves the ostensible lead actress Dr. Toey (Nantarat Sawaddikul) meeting with a chatty monk who relates to her his fear that he has bad chicken-based karma because it comprises a large part of his diet and dreams of breaking chicken's legs, and then tries to hustle her for pain pills. Additionally, the ostensible male lead, Dr. Ple (Arkanae Cherkam) is a dentist-cum-amateur-country-singer, and one of the monks confesses during a cleaning that he once had aspirations to be a DJ and/or comic book store owner (Ple provides the quote at the top) The second half of the film shifts to the present day, transposing the same characters to a stifling, antiseptic modern hospital, and showing the same interactions from a contemporary standpoint: the opening interview between Toey and cheerful medic Dr. Nohng (Jaruchai Iamaram) is much more curt and nitpicky. The monk is advised to cut back on the chicken not because of bad karma, but bad cholesterol, and the brusque doctor immediately attempts to prescribe medication for the monk's "panic disorder". Meanwhile, the dentist and the younger monk's friendly interaction with the sun shining out the window has been replaced by rows of gleaming plastic machinery and absolute silence (to the point that most of the monk's face is covered in an almost-Cronenbergian hood), with the only conversation involved being instructions to open or close the mouth.

It becomes quickly apparently that Weeresethakul's picture steers much closer to Tarkovsky than previously anticipated. Drifting into peer Tsai Ming-Liang's wheelhouse, his topic of conversation has become urban alienation; the subsequent loss of spirituality comes a loss of humanity. The key sequence comes around here, when the film cuts between achingly lonesome pans of religious statues neglected in small patches of urban foliage, and Dr. Nohng, on his lunch break, walking with a colleague discussing ringtones and leering at co-eds. The rest of the film runs in this vein: an older female doctor pulls liquor out of a prosthetic leg in preparation for an upcoming television appearance; a chakra healing attempt is angrily swatted away by a young patient who has a large tattoo on his neck and no desire to go to school; an intimate moment between Nohng and his significant other turns into a request for him to move with her to an ugly, high-tech "modern" area of town, and a vulgar gawk at his erection; culminating in a breathtaking sensory overload in the final sequence, wrapping up with a gloriously audacious, discordant series of shots that puts his theme in vivid focus.

Social impatience, emotional disconnect, moral malfeasance, all are present in Weeresethakul's view of the present world, but he has done more than scream at the kids to get off his lawn, he's created a treatise on the state of the world: caring is in decline, kindness is in decline, focus is in decline, soul is in decline. I usually roll my eyes when a pundit begins rambling about the "good ol' days", but as a filmmaker, Weeresethakul is tasked with creating his own world, letting us share it, and making us believe it, and with Syndromes & a Century, he's presented us with the trappings of a very familiar modern world, and a hope, a wish, a prayer that maybe, just maybe, by journeying back to his childhood, if not our own, we could carve out a blueprint for how to be a little closer, a little kinder, a little wiser, towards our fellow man.

--Grade: 9.5/10 (A)--

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Sweeping, emotional and visually driven film documenting times gone by under a banner of the high-art.

7/10
Author: johnnyboyz from Hampshire, England
11 July 2009

Thai film Syndromes and a Century manages to come across as an unashamedly routine love story told amongst a palette of long takes, highly ambiguous symbolism, a distinct manipulation of time and space as well as a telling of events from particular perspectives. The film is a high-art piece, with particular avant-garde sensibilities, as it weaves a tale that sways in and out of the past tense, the present tense and distinct and important memories as well as some sort of alternate reality. The film is very spiritual, and it carries that slow and methodical tone that compliments the delicate and somewhat sensitive subject matter of love, rejected love and life. The slow tracking camera as shots of about twenty seconds in length of stone Bhudda statues suggests whatever journeys these characters are on are more spiritual than they are physical.

Syndromes and a Century isn't necessarily too concerned with narrative, and whatever development of its characters it does, or connection with them we feel with them, is going to be by way of relating to the fondness they feel for one another more-so the vast and complex changes they undergo. Instead, the film takes a step back; focusing more on camera and atmosphere, in particular, where the camera is situated just as much as it is concerned with where it isn't. There is a scene, very early on, in which the camera stands mere feet off the ground at a door-way and focuses on an individual of medical profession talking to various patients sitting to the side of this person's desk. The placement is pretty clear, and with synopsis in mind that this is a personal piece documenting memories of the director's parents as he spent time in the hospital in which they worked, the shot is quite clearly supposed to resemble a child's point of view; tepid as to whether to come in or not and insignificant enough for the people in the room to pretty much ignore them.

But that's not to say the film is entirely told from a child's perspective, just those scenes that director Apichatpong Weerasethakul feels necessary to document in that grounded, lack of cuts and edits manner. Weerasethakul blends a very articulate sense of the observant during most of the internal scenes supposedly revolving around his parents working in respective spaces; shot through a camera that is very much a part of the scenes, but isn't directly involved in the action, with rather routine exchanges and dialogue sequences in which exactly how people feel for one another needs to be laid out and fast-tracked.

This romance revolves around a young doctor who happens to be quite fond of what is the closest resemblance in the film of a lead role in a young, female nurse. When this individual eventually confesses his feelings outside in the hospital grounds, there is an entire segment of the film dedicated to a flashback of what I presume to be a prior love in the life of the nurse, a flower salesman by the name of Noom (Pukanok). Given the overall context of the piece and it being a recollection or acknowledgement of past events, the extended break away into the past tense of when the nurse is reminded of prior events fits the overall context of the film; that being as something that is all about delving into the past and remembering important times gone by; times that, indeed, may well have shaped an individual or had such an impact on them that it has made them the way they are.

As the film progresses, scenes seem to repeat themselves, but from different angles in the room or at the location. Scenes play out from earlier on but cross the line and have the child-like perspective from a different position in what I can only assume is the director's recollection of the general area he frequented many times but, given how complicated and meaningless everything everybody ever said in these rooms was to a child anyway, a lot of the talk; dialogue and exchanges people engaged in with one another just seemed to blend in with everything else and sound the same. What's important in this regard is remembering how highly the visuals of the piece are emphasised by the director; this is a piece about observing and recalling places and people and how this had an impact on you in your life. What it isn't interested in is any particular aural detail: the dialogue between two people that love one another is deliberately unspectacular and the speech in the hospital comes close to exact repetition.

As a piece that evokes a certain emotional response, Syndromes and a Century succeeds. It is a memorable experience about specific memories themselves, while being deliberately ambiguous and hazy in its set time-frame. Even some of the film's more outrageous content feels as if it can carry certain meanings without coming across as too pretentious. Take, for example, the air condition equipment sequence which acts as a visualisation of raw human emotion as the previously seen dust or smoke that had settled in the room is soaked up by a funnel, in a sort of visualisation of the bombshell of a few scenes ago in which a character proposes they move away with their love. The bombshell is dropped; the smoke litters the area but it is then all absorbed as the other individual comes to terms with what positive things that decision may incorporate. The film is stunning at the best of times, which is rather frequently, and doesn't really drop below a level of high, humbling quality.

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8 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Artistically filmed, but tried my patience

5/10
Author: bandw from Boulder, CO
12 July 2008

There is a story to be found here somewhere, but it is cleverly hidden among a grab bag of images. Ostensibly it is about the director's parents who were both doctors. But they are on screen for about 10% of the movie.

Director Weerasethakul uses skillful framing and subtle color to create some remarkable images. There are some very sensual scenes of natural settings. The majority of scenes seem to be thrown in due to random firings in the director's brain. There are long slow takes circling statues that come from nowhere and go nowhere and lots of prolonged shots of people staring into space. There is one scene capturing a perfectly ordinary dental procedure that goes on for several minutes and another scene of great length of an exhaust vent sucking smoke out of a room. This latter is somewhat transfixing, but I can't see why it's there.

The movie creates a mood, but I often found that mood to be one of annoyance. If anyone can explain the meaning of the English title ("Syndromes and a Century") please let me know.

This one is definitely for the art house crowd.

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