Film Review: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives [dir. Apichatpong Weerasethakul; 2010]

Proceed with caution. 2010’s Palme d’Or winner is a mystifying, unfathomable meditation on the twilight period between the conclusion of life and the beginning of death. Without ever quickening its snail’s pace, it presents a series of intriguing tableaux in which the eponymous uncle quietly ends his days surrounded by his nearest and dearest. But the idiosyncracies of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s style won’t be to everyone’s taste. His story features ghosts, taciturn monkey-men and a sex scene between a woman and a catfish. (Yes, you read that right.) It refuses to meet the audience’s need for answers and explanations, resolutely staying away from any Occidental notions of how a narrative ought to work. Having said that, I can’t deny that I found it compelling… but don’t ask me to explain what it’s about.

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