Suffering from acute kidney failure, Uncle Boonmee has chosen to spend his final days surrounded by his loved ones in the countryside. Surprisingly, the ghost of his deceased wife appears to care for him, and his long lost son returns home in a non-human form. Contemplating the reasons for his illness, Boonmee treks through the jungle with his family to a mysterious hilltop cave - the birthplace of his first life. Written by
Inspired by the book "A Man Who Can Recall Past Lives" by Phra Sripariyattiweti of Sang Arun Forest Monastery, Khon Kaen. Published in August 23, 1983. See more »
The first time a ghost appears, during dinner, the nephew passes the ghost a glass of water. You can see the ghost image superimposed over the nephew's arm when he places the glass of water on the table. See more »
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Divide a Film Going Audience
When it comes to art films, there's always been a divide. More casual viewers are more likely to dismiss a lot of them as pretentious and stupid, film buffs are more likely to find them beautiful and above anything you'll spend ten to fifteen to watch in a multiplex today. "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives" is one of those films, however, that even divides film buffs amongst themselves. Despite winning Palme D'or, the film has many detractors, and a 6.6 on this site(as of this review). 6.6 isn't bad but far below what you would expect given some of the praise. So, what IS this film exactly?
The title character is a man who is slowly dying, living out with his family for his remaining days. Those days become consumed by flashbacks to past lives (though it's not always clear what that life is or how it relates), being visited by the ghost of his wife, and trying to plan for his after life. The film has a very loose structure. Many people find the pace unbearably slow, I think in part because the film doesn't really build up to anything. To call this film meditative would not be a hyperbole, it's a mellow kind of movie. After watching it, I felt different, like I had been given the world's greatest massage, my muscles loosened up and everything, it's not like anything I've gotten from a movie before. This is helped by the beautiful scenery and cinematography. This is a movie that, if you can't watch it on a big screen with loud speakers, should at least be watched in a dark room with headphones if watching on a laptop/desktop. There's little in way of soundtrack (except for one beautiful song later in the film), but the sounds of nature are beautifully captured.
The actual narrative is composed of many smaller stories, all of which connect with Boonmee. All of them work on their own level, and together do create a low key but very, very touching film. the scene where Boonmee talks to the spirit of his wife about the anxiety he used to have giving speeches may be the highlight there, though the princess story and the final flashback are also up there.
This is a film you have to watch on it's terms. You have to be willing to watch it as a more meditative kind of experience, to simply enjoy it the way one might enjoy a hike in the woods of a car ride. If that's not what you want out of a film, avoid this at all costs.
For me, personally, I was a little hesitant going in, given how divided opinion was, but I'm glad I did, and will certainly watch again. It's a powerful film. It won't necessarily leave you in tears, but it will likely leave an impression on those who gravitate towards things like this.
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