Soldiers with a mysterious sleeping sickness are transferred to a temporary clinic in a former school. The memory-filled space becomes a revelatory world for housewife and volunteer Jenjira, as she watches over Itt, a handsome soldier with no family visitors. Jen befriends young medium Keng who uses her psychic powers to help loved ones communicate with the comatose men. Doctors explore ways, including colored light therapy, to ease the mens' troubled dreams. Jen discovers Itt's cryptic notebook of strange writings and blueprint sketches. There may be a connection between the soldiers' enigmatic syndrome and the mythic ancient site that lies beneath the clinic. Magic, healing, romance and dreams are all part of Jen's tender path to a deeper awareness of herself and the world around her.
For the few readers of my reviews, I apologize for the recent blockbuster posts. "Arrival" and "Kubo" not very far off the map, but perhaps you can take this journey.
It's an exotic film, but not in the common sense. I suspect one could go to Thailand and not really find what this film presents, it may not exist.
Like mind-reading, meditation, religious shrines, beauty creams, ring worm, and reincarnation....we don't really see them in action, but can sense they are present. Might as well add love and history to that list.
Things we cannot see but know are there including the current in water and the air moved by fans, images used to separate scenes in this film.
In the middle of this "Cemetery of Spendor" there is a scene, not linearly part of the plot, that puts us in a theater for a coming attractions unreal reel of a Thai ghost film. So this film too is a ghost film, even if the principal ghost, Itt, is not dead but hovering between lives past and present. Sleepwalking and seance-summoned (well not really a seance, there is a medium.
The films pace is languid, a dog is allowed to wander into frame, a hen guides its chicks past a door in a school converted to a hospital. The lead character, she has been through both, now and then.
One of my all-time favorite films, "Travelers and Magicians" has a similar feel....although that was a story, and this is almost more of a poem.
Certainly not for everyone, but you will love it. And you'll want one of those psychedelic apnea respirators with color tubes. Also we find out that Europeans are living the American Dream....but dreams for this director can clearly be tricky.
In my limited exposure, Weerasethakul has a wonderful way of seeing/thinking and filming, here's his weather and sports short that we got to see at SFMoMa last year.
Warning : it is definitely a film as art feature https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fYrRwASGQA one of my sons sure appreciated it over the Calder sculptures. To each, his own....but glad to have visited this Sleepwalking Land. (Wow he should get the cinematic rights to that book by Mia Couto!)
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