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Loong Boonmee raleuk chat (2010) Online

Loong Boonmee raleuk chat (2010) Online
Original Title :
Loong Boonmee raleuk chat
Genre :
Movie / Drama / Fantasy
Year :
Directror :
Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Cast :
Thanapat Saisaymar,Jenjira Pongpas,Sakda Kaewbuadee
Writer :
Phra Sripariyattiweti,Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Type :
Time :
1h 54min
Rating :

Dying of kidney disease, a man spends his last, somber days with family, including the ghost of his wife and a forest spirit who used to be his son, on a rural northern Thailand farm.

Loong Boonmee raleuk chat (2010) Online

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. {locallinks-homepage}
Cast overview, first billed only:
Thanapat Saisaymar Thanapat Saisaymar - Boonmee
Jenjira Pongpas Jenjira Pongpas - Jen
Sakda Kaewbuadee Sakda Kaewbuadee - Tong
Natthakarn Aphaiwonk Natthakarn Aphaiwonk - Huay
Geerasak Kulhong Geerasak Kulhong - Boonsong
Wallapa Mongkolprasert Wallapa Mongkolprasert - Princess
Kanokporn Tongaram Kanokporn Tongaram - Roong (as Kanokporn Thongaram)
Samud Kugasang Samud Kugasang - Jaai
Sumit Suebsee Sumit Suebsee - Soldier
Mathieu Ly Mathieu Ly - Farmer
Vien Pimdee Vien Pimdee - Farmer
Akachai Aodvieng Akachai Aodvieng
Prakasit Padsena Prakasit Padsena
Nikom Kammach Nikom Kammach
Chophaka Chaiyuchit Chophaka Chaiyuchit

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.

Shot on 16mm film rather than digital. Director Apichatpong Weerasethakul wanted to film in this format as the film is all about dying traditions.

The first Thai film to win the Palme d'Or at Cannes. It was the first Asian film to win the award since 1997.

Audience members at the Cannes Film Festival are notorious for their visceral reactions to films. Booing is commonplace as are walkouts. People started walking out of this film after the first 6 minutes

The film is part autobiographical as, like Uncle Boonmee, Apichatpong Weerasethakul's father also died of kidney failure.

Despite the film's title, Uncle Boonmee doesn't describe any of his past lives.

Winner of the 2010 Palme D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

Selected as the Thai submission to the Academy Awards Foreign Language Film category though it didn't make the final five.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is the final installment in a multi-platform art project "Primitive". The project deals with the Isan region in Thailand's northeast, and in particular the village of Nabua in Nakhon Phanom, near the Laos border. Previous installments include a seven-part video installation and the two short films A Letter to Uncle Boonmee and Phantoms of Nabua, both of which premiered in 2009. The project deals with themes of memories, transformation and extinction, and touches on a violent 1965 crackdown on communist sympathizers in Nabua by the Thai army. Regarding the feature film's place within the overarching project, Apichatpong has said that it "echoes other works in the 'Primitive' installation, which is about this land in Isan with a brutal history. But I'm not making a political film - it's more like a personal diary."

According to Weerasethakul, the film is primarily about "objects and people that transform or hybridize".

A central theme of the film is the transformation and possible extinction of cinema itself. The film consists of six reels each shot in a different cinematic style. The styles include, by the words of the director, "old cinema with stiff acting and classical staging", "documentary style", "costume drama" and "my kind of film when you see long takes of animals and people driving". Weerasethakul further explained in an interview with Bangkok Post: "When you make a film about recollection and death, you realize that cinema is also facing death. Uncle Boonmee is one of the last pictures shot on film - now everybody shoots digital. It's my own little lamentation".

Apichatpong Weerasethakul says that a man named Boonmee approached Phra Sripariyattiweti, the abbot of a Buddhist temple in his home town, claiming he could clearly remember his own previous lives while meditating. The abbot was so impressed with Boonmee's ability that he published a book called A Man Who Can Recall His Past Lives in 1983. By the time Apichatpong read the book, Boonmee had died. The original idea was to adapt the book into a biographical film about Boonmee. However, that was soon abandoned to make room for a more personal film, while still using the book's structure and content as inspiration.

Les Cahiers du cinéma featured Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives on the cover of the June 2010 issue and listed it first on their famous annual Top Ten of 2010.

The film received a score of 2.4/4 at Screen International's annual Cannes Jury Grid in 2010.

It was listed second on Film Comment magazine's Best Films of 2011 list.

In the 2012 Sight & Sound critics' poll, 8 critics voted for it as one of their 10 greatest films ever made; this ranked it at #202 in the finished list. Five directors also voted, making the film ranked at #132 in the directors' poll.

In a 2016 BBC poll, critics voted the film the 37th greatest since 2000.

User reviews



In order to appreciates the film, you have to understand that this movie is not just a normal film where you can expects classical narrative and plot. the directer not only have Buddhism as a philosophical point of view but he also put a little bit of Thai historical and political aspects in to the film.

In my opinion, the theme of this film is the man's struggle from human condition and transformation.

here are some few points I'd like to make concerning the film:

1. Man and Illusion

Before humankind, there was nature, which is pure and true. there are trees and wind and animals and so on. then there are man, which is basically another living specie. both animal and human have the same drive (sex, food, shelter etc.) the only different between man and animal is the ability to understand "sign" (read semiotic for more understanding) thus, human being created language, painting and symbol and so on. in other word, because our brain can perceived sign, so we can created ART. Art was created by man since the days of the cave man i.e. cave painting in Lascaux, France. (did you noticed that there are also cave paintings in the film?)

Man are proud that we are the only specie that can create and appreciate art, but what we didn't realized is that we are also the only specie that have the ability the created the illusion/lie/falsehood. Because of evolution, our unique brain can store memories and emotion, mix it up, and then created stuffs from it. because of this, the more time pass, the more we are far away from the truth; culture, law, politic, social status etc. are all MAN-MADE ILLUSION

2. Illusion of Dualism

It's seems like our perceived reality of "duality in nature" is embedded in our brain. we separated things into yin/yang mentality: day/night, good/bad, man/woman, live/death. one scene in particular shows how Boonmee kill the worms in his tamarind tree because "it's pest". then the next scene he show his sister the bee hive and seems very protective of it (he explain to his sister to avoid the larvae area on the plate). When he told his sister that his condition is the result of his karma from killing COMMUNIST and PEST, his sister replied "it's alright because you have good intention". When did killing other being can become good intention? Aren't communist human too? Aren't pests and bees are both insects?

3. The role of photography/Film, Memories, and Reality

Roland Barthes, in his book "Camera Lucinda", explained that a picture creates a falseness in the illusion of 'what is', where 'what was' would be a more accurate description. We can see a lot of scene involved photography; from the photos Boonmee shows to his dead wife as a proof of her funeral, the obsession of his son before he became a monkey, the final scene which Boonmee told the story about his dream etc. (this is an important scene, we will talk about it later)

4. In the playground, we created the rules, then we fought each other

In the film, we see peoples who of separated by this so-called man-made illusion, for example, different nationalities and spoken languages (Thai vs Laos), (Laos vs French) (Isan vs. Central Thai) etc. If you know little bit about Thai history, you will understand that the director also talk about the official vs the people / communism vs democracy(?).

in the final scene where Boonmee told the story about his dream, we see people wearing uniform. They are obviously appointed as "Soldier/Army". Then in the next photo we saw these soldiers captured the Monkeys Ghost. If you watch the film until this point, by now you should realized that the Monkey ghost is the allegory of the Communist.

then in the next photo, we saw that the soldier now taking their clothes off and play other kind of war game (throwing rock). The most funny thing is in the last photo, we saw 2 circles draw on the ground. In my opinion, the director suggest that countries, border dispute and war are nothing but a child's game.

5. Jāti: literally birth, but life is understood as starting at conception

the word "ชาติ" in Thai word derived from Sanskrit "Jāti", when translated to English it simply means "live". hence the name of the film "Uncle Boonmee who can recall his past lives" but in fact, the word Jati is the term in Buddhism which is not simply translate as "live" but have a lot more profound meaning.

By the way, I have the same feeling watching this film and Kubrick's 2001: Space Odyssey. Maybe because it also dealt with the theme of human condition and transformation, but this film is from the Eastern Philosophy point of view, of course.


This was a hard film to rate. It pains me not to have fallen in love with it. Here, then, are some scattered thoughts of my failed romance.

It started with a very sour first date. It also ended there.

I went in looking to see a film that won the Golden Palm at Cannes 2010. Knowing this fact, and having seen the trailer, I went to the theater expecting to see an art house piece with Oriental metaphysical overtones. What I saw was, to be sure, a decisively original and at times hauntingly beautiful film, but one that I found an absolute bore: a film that, to me, seemed a tiresome, dysfunctional, inchoate potpourri of disjunct elements that never quite flowed together.

Perhaps false expectations can ruin a movie. Or, perhaps, let me hazard the unlikely suggestion, there is nothing here to salvage? For let me be clear: I wanted to like this film, I really did. It is important to reward originality and craftsmanship, always. And I respect the film (or at least its intentions). But the fact remains (here comes the unavoidable, brutal, decisive fact), I didn't like it. I only liked a few scenes here and there. Some parts I hated, absolutely loathed. Despite a few glimmerings of genius - and an undoubted air of originality - it seems to be that Uncle Boonmee is a needlessly difficult, slow-paced and ultimately unsuccessful film... despite the fact that it gets to a great start and carries a lot of potential all the time. Perhaps the "elusive" quality mentioned by the high-praise reviewers is a mask behind which there is no greater coherence to be found. Perhaps the inchoate structure and the belaboured pacing are not marks of genius but amateurish vices committed in the name of some grand vision that shall forever remain out of our material reach. I fault this film not because of its weird themes or its occasional dream logic. On the contrary, I think that it may even be that the film wasn't weird enough or dreamy enough; perhaps this film's use of "magic realism" is a kind of materialistic trap that forces the movie into long, never-ending sequences of absolutely no consequence. The main vice of the film is its unadventurous reliance on fixed camera frames and boring, dragging shots. Editing between the scenes is tortuously snail-paced and almost morphine-mimicking in its soporific entailments.

Whatever the reason, the film feels too much jumbled together, like some heavy stone stuck in a spiritual limbo, or a unicorn eating a burger, or some such nonsense. Ironically, the main stumbling block for the film, if you ask me, is not its "artsiness", but its clumsy down-to-Earthness. The film seems to be grasping for some supreme realism and materialism underneath its spiritual, religious and metaphysical surface. But the result is a kind of Ken Loach of Buddhism: a boring materialism under the guise of animistic spiritualism. Just plain realism without a purpose: people doing boring stuff for boring reasons.

Or perhaps all this is wrong; perhaps all this analysis is useless. Perhaps we are back to false expectations again: I expected one thing and saw another. But who cares WHY I didn't like it? Surely all this is uninteresting? Well, perhaps, but let me say that my personal dilemma - how I wanted to love this film so much but ended up almost hating it - is an interesting story to tell, because this film has the potential to divide audiences totally, into "haters" and "praisers" - and very few lukewarm receivers in between. I definitely recommend this film to be seen, but I am not going to play the art house card, the usual cop-out: "I'm sure it's a masterpiece, I just didn't get it", and then give it a score of 8 or 9 despite having hated it myself, out of some duty-bound, deranged, depersonalized sense of professional duty or peer pressure to agree with everybody else, or - worse yet - pretend to love the film because of some unhealthy respect for the jury at Cannes or the snidely snobbish world film press. No, this would be a scandalous road to take. One must stand by one's convictions, and it is my personal conviction, based on one viewing, that here we have an ultimately pretty bad film: a failed exercise at grafting something sublime. Despite its undoubtedly pure and original intentions and beginnings, this film remains an overrated (soon to be over-venerated), perplexing, highly original turd - interesting but ultimately vacuous, like some of Buñuel's lesser works, or like Andy Warhol's art.

Whether I change my opinion after a second, or third, viewing remains to be seen. So, despite my dislike of the film's overall structure, I feel that this is an important film, and I can easily recommend it to all movie lovers. Everyone remotely interested in film should go and see, form their OWN opinion, of such a remarkable cinematic piece: a film that, despite its flaws and vices, is undoubtedly a creation of unique character and visionary qualities. Weerasethakul's directorial voice is loud and persistent, and its echo will surely be heard for many years to come across the lands - and cinema screens - the world over.

Now, let him only refine his voice a bit and convince us skeptics.

Whether my love for this film will grow, who knows. I'm preparing for the inevitable "second date" - the future second attempt at falling in love - with a strange expectation of more melancholy moods.


I'll be frank. Whether or not you enjoy this movie will depend largely on whether or not you are a die hard film buff or a casual movie goer looking for a story. If you are the later, then aside from the eerie sight of the red eyed Monkey Spirits, you will come away disappointed.

That said, there is much in Uncle Boonmee to like, but like the Buddhist aesthetic the film is steeped in, you have to be ready for it. Because this is one film that demands a lot of patience of the viewer.

Set in rural Isan Province, Thailand, the story follows the last days of a well to-do farmer, the titular Boonmee, who is dying of a terminal illness. Like all dying men, Boonmee can't help but wax philosophic, both on the nature of death itself and on his own past mistakes, and one night while eating with his family is suddenly and abruptly joined by two spirits, the first of his dead wife, Huay, the second that of his missing son, Boonsong, who has inexplicably been transformed into a black monkey. Anyone even remotely familiar with the prior work of Director Weerasethakul (try saying that with a mouthful of marbles), particularly Tropical Malady, will know that such surrealism is a common theme in his films, with its signature mix of traditional Thai Buddhism and animist lore. As in Tropical Malady, the day belongs to the living and the mundane, but night brings on ghosts, animal spirits, the shades of ancestors, and the inner musings and anxieties of Weerasethakul's characters.

The film itself feels much like a Buddhist temple; with its long uninterrupted and unadorned shots, and its devotion to capturing trivial moments, it is not so much a vehicle for storytelling as contemplation. The last film to be shot with celluloid as opposed to digital, it is the director's self-admitted funerary ode to a dying medium.


I just finished watching this movie for the second time. I saw it twice because I was torn between making the decision of whether it was absolute garbage, or a work of genius. It's pretty much garbage. Sorry.

Picture this: you download some pictures of Thai forests and caves from National Geographic. You then download "Forest Sounds Vol. 2". You play a slide-show of these pictures whilst listening to the ominous and atmospheric sounds of the jungle. After about 10 minutes, you stop what you're doing and sit in a corner for an hour and a half. Then, you go back to your slide-show and sound effects for another 10 minutes. This is the movie in a nutshell.

There are some beautiful shots within the movie, and it's obvious there was some talent because they make a point to keep these still shots on the screen for as long as possible. The background sounds add a lot to the movie as well, but everything else was just plain bad. All of the acting was quiet and monotonous, and it didn't make it seem more natural at all.

The dialogue was terrible. Nothing made sense. As much as I would love to be even more pretentious about movies than I already am, and rave about how people don't understand this movie, there actually is really nothing to understand. All of the characters were the same. Any subtleties within them are just projections of the viewer filling in the blanks, and believe me, they are blank.

The majority of the movie was filler.



In a spirit haunted primordial jungle a joyful man is quietly, harmlessly dying, though there is never less than a smile on his face.

The phases of his life play out before him. He is a farmer, a soldier, teller of myths, a husband, a father, an uncle. All these things quietly take their place in the narrative until the time when he must enter the underworld and pass on, guided by those who love him, both living and dead.

As Boonmee reflects on his life the arc of Thailand plays out as well. From contemplative agrarian past, through the time of fables, to the war with the communist and on into the disaffected, modernist future where we see ourselves seeing ourselves seeing ourselves.

All told with a minimal amount of fuss and effects, sewn together with threads of human intimacy, small gestures, a little sly humor and an over all meditative, knowing, measured rhythm.

There was another movie out last year that claimed it was about dreams... an American film. It made a lot of money but felt false and boisterous. Nothing about it felt like dreaming to me at all. This movie IS a dream. Everything about it feels like a dream. The difference between the two is the difference between spectacle and ritual. Uncle Boonmee is ritualized cinema in its purest form, ancient in its wisdom and avant-garde in its form.


This is one of the finest films I have seen all year and I am certain that this film will stay with you for a long, long time.

Uncle Boonmee belongs to a category of films that harks back to the days of the invention of the moving image; when audience members were stunned in disbelief to see pictures and images in motion. The dawn of cinema came about as an experience and a work of art, much like a painting that people could experience and interpret how they liked. It is great to see film makers in todays commercial age still holding on to that vision and delivering the same.

The story, if there is one, is about the protagonist Boonmee who, close to the end of his current life, recollects how this one went by, with the help of ghosts and spirits of the forest where he lives. He has the ability to go back and forth into his past and future lives and relate his memories.

The movie, like other mood-pieces, can be fairly divisive with its audience. People who are not prepared for it will be left confounded whereas a small minority for whom the movie is made will leave the cinema stunned at the experience of it all. Therefore, this movie should rather be called an experience instead of a movie.

It is a little surprising that it won the Palm D'Or at Cannes, but not because it does not deserve it, but because it surprises me that the judges actually saw the beauty behind it. I say this one deserves the award more than the others did.


Incoherent, unpredictable, mystical, yet undoubtedly original, "Uncle Boonmee Who Call Recall His Past Lives" is a pseudo-profound cinematic venture that reeks with allegory and mythical undertones. After watching this film, I've come to a conclusion that it is certainly not for everyone.

Despite its strange recurring themes about supernatural beings, spirits, Buddhist philosophy, karma, and reincarnation, it will bathe you with its gentleness and natural ornateness. It is intimate and surprisingly elegant, though not without its flaws.

Much like Terrence Malick's "Tree of Life," this motion picture lacks a linear narrative. It doesn't have what most of us would require from a movie: a plot. It heavily relies on hypnotic images captured into still wide frames that often drag longer than the easily-bored viewer can bear.

Then there's the noticeable absence of a musical score. You never get to hear music until the last few minutes of the film; all you'll hear besides the dialogues are crickets, the rustling of leaves, a water buffalo, the sound of an electric fly swatter zapping flying bugs, footsteps, a waterfall, and a talking catfish that made love to a disfigured princess.

Simple and ambitious; primitive and modern; eerie and comforting; senseless and driven; and dull and brilliant, this Thai film gives you a one-of-a-kind viewing experience. If you are into esoteric art films, this is something I would highly recommend. If you loathe movies that seem to have no meaning, then this is not for you.

Confounding as it is, "Uncle Boonmee..." is a film that doesn't need to be understood; it simply has to be FELT.


"Facing the jungle, the hills and vales, my past lives as an animal and other beings rise up before me." This quote appears on the screen at the start of the film and is indicative of what we'll see. Uncle Boonmee is a farm owner in rural Thailand, up in the hills, and is dying of kidney disease. In this period of his life visions of past incarnations and other supernatural visions will appear to him. The movie is staggeringly and outrageously beautiful, whether it's the way light is falling on coloured mosquito nets in a darkened room or its fractured scatter on a quartz cavern, or a vision of a palanquined princess seen through veils, being carried through a susurrating forest on a narrow track.

Apitchatpong "Joe" Weerasethakul's profound respect for life comes through well in the film. A recurring theme in his films are medical scenes with the long term ill. This is apparently because he grew up in a hospital, both his parents being doctors, and so he was very used to seeing sick people. The scenes where Boonmee requires dialysis are therefore very easy and compassionate. The whole movie has a great gentleness as regards mise-en-scene. You just can't get enough of this stuff, simple human scenes where people cuddle and care for one another. I like also how darker things are dealt with elliptically, for example a water buffalo at the start which breaks free of it's tether, but realises after wandering in the forest that it has nowhere to go and no role to play out. Docile it returns with the farmer who has gone out looking for it. I take that as being allegorical, with the dark hulk representing a human spirit in anguish, though the straight up incarnation viewpoint is obviously affecting too. One thing Joe said in his Q&A after the film is that he's very keen on individual interpretations of the film, of which he has seen many types, so come prepared and be a creative watcher! Boonmee believes he is ill because he killed too many communists and also too many bugs on his farm (via the use of chemical pesticides). So the idea of karma runs through the movie as well. A spirit in the movie talks about heaven and says that it's overrated, and that nothing ever happens there. I found that quite funny (the movie is frequently amusing), because I've always thought of the view of heaven by the Abrahamic religions as quite problematic, that none of them can really make sense of it, of how to frame life once life is gone, once the struggle is over.

There's homage in the film to the movies that Apitchatpong grew up watching, and understanding that this is intentional may help to explain some rather odd special effects. I think as well is helps to have a knowledge of Thai current events and a little history, especially with the final scenes.

Quite incredibly special, like Katie, who this is for.


This years Palme d'Or winner at the Cannes Film Festival, "Uncle Boonme Who Can Recall His Past Lives" is the story of a man who is dying, and as result recalls his past lives and is visited by ghosts and spirits.

There are ape spirit creatures who lives in the forest attracted by his sickness, he remembers being an ox and a princess, we watch a nurse drain some device the ailing Boonme wears fixed to his abdomen.

This was the first film I watched at 2010's AFI Film Festival in Los Angeles, and it was a start that was not followed easily. The film is strange but the words which feel most appropriate to the film are "gentle" and "mysterious".

Boonme's final days are spent with his sister and a nurse and their various supernatural guests. They eat dinner, watch films, look at photo albums, life unfolds but with an awareness of a mysterious shift coming. As death approaches, past lives and those human, animal, or other appear ever-shifting and inter connected, foreign but also familiar, like relatives returned after a long absence."Uncle Boonme" is the final part of a multi-platform project featuring art installations and short films called "The Primitive Installation", about Nabua, Thailand a region heavily occupied by the Thai army from the 60's to the 80's. "Uncle Boonme" believes his karma is the result of the part he played in the violence of the past.Director Apichatpong Weerasethakul ("Joe" for short) has created a landscape of shadowy jungles, intimate bedroom lighting, a haunting, funny, dreamy, and wise, rhythmic lamentation about modern life, it's "primitive" counter points, death, change, spirit-monkeys and all that good stuff.

Uncle Boonme is a fantasy as epic as Souleymane Cisse's "Yeelen", one luminous to look at and visually wander through, with several of "Tropical Malady's"' most hallucinatory moments, appearing strong early in it's opening movements and closing out on notes as elliptical as those of "Syndromes And A Century", and then there's the final scene compressed into a wonderful kind of epilogue involving a monk, that's the most audacious, fascinating, and best of it's sort since Wes Anderson's "Hotel Chevalier"."

Transformations and contrasts between the ancient and the modern flow into one another from electronic bug zappers to sex with talking cat- fish, primordial caves to karaoke bars. Dual and multiple-roles and states within a single whole, are a recurring theme in the film, so multiple meanings and readings being generated is little surprise. But though these thoughts rise up haunting us after viewing, the images of movement through Nabua's phantom jungles and Boonme's warm goodbyes are what we are left feeling and reeling with.

All modern worlds are built on ancient ones, all new things have within them older forms. "Uncle Boonme" is more informed by Buddhist notions of reincarnation, the idiosyncratic personality of it's creator and the psycho-geography of it's location, more than normal concerns about dramatic and character arc. In simpler words...an old man who is dying can recall his past lives.

The film is a matter of perception as complex and post- modernist/globalized as any experimental narrative in avant-garde-dom or as mystical and "primitive" as any ancient Sutra, based on the cultural inclinations and presuppositions you bring to the film. In any event, is to Joe's continued success and cinemas continued fortune that he so playfully and beautifully can challenge and delight these hybrid perceptions of ours as he does.


I watched this film today during its initial run at SFX Cinema Emporium, Bangkok. The Thai film rating is 15+.

Rural North-East Thailand. Uncle Boonmee is dying. The film follows him for the last few days of his life. Between the time the audience first meets him and his death in a cave that seems to be full of stars, the ghosts of his wife and long lost son appear, the protagonists talk about life and love and many things in-between and a disfigured princess has an erotic encounter with a catfish. Long, drawn out scenes abound. The surround sound keeps you in the middle of rural Thailand.

Apichatpong Weerasethakul tells a story that doesn't ask or need to be understood. "Uncle Boonmee..." is an art film par excellence. Make what you want of it or don't. It does help if you are familiar with Thai customs and legends.

I wasn't bored for one minute. If you love art films this is essential viewing.


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.


Viewed at the Festival du Film, Cannes 2010 I saw this film with two friends at the evening, red carpet screening in Cannes. Lucky us, right? Well, no. The walk-outs began about six minutes in and continued unabated. My two companions both fell asleep! I managed to stay awake, although I tried otherwise, and when A and B both woke some 45 minutes later, we also joined the line for the exit. I realise a film is always a personal experience, but there is absolutely no story on show here, no character establishment or development. The camera lingers and busks to the point that you are mentally screaming "CUT!! CUT!!"! Whole interminable scenes do nothing to drive a non-existent narrative forwards. Visually, it often looks like it was shot on mini-DV and mastered through an unwashed milk bottle. As for the characters, especially Uncle Boonmee, do we get to know him? What do you think? Do we even care? What do you think again? The best thing about this film is, I kid you not, an electric fly swatter! Now that's something I want! It won the Palme D'Or, of course.


If I didn't read Wikipedia, I wouldn't have known that "Uncle Boonme who can recall his past lives" was the final installment of a "multi-platform art project" called 'Primitive'. I also had no idea (until I read the Wikipedia article) that a good part of the film was shot in the northeast Isan region of Thailand, close to the Laotian border. Director Apichatpong Weerasethakul has indicated the film echoes other works in the 'Primitive' project which focus on the brutal history of Isan (particularly a 1965 crackdown on Communist sympathizers by the Thai Army). But Weerasethakul makes it clear that his primary intent is not to make a political statement.

Before understanding what 'Uncle Boonme' is, one must examine where director Weerasethakul is coming from. He's really one of these guys who has a penchant for nostalgia. If he was an American filmmaker, he probably would be extolling the 'beauty' and 'originality' of old TV shows like 'Ozzie and Harriet'. That's why he shot 'Boonme' in 16 millimeter and wistfully bemoans the use of digital, which in his mind has led to the possible "extinction" of "cinema itself". He likes the old Thai TV shows, also shot in 16 millimeter, where the "lines were whispered to the actors, who mechanically repeated them". He also admires (believe it or not) the old movies where monsters were filmed in the dark so the audience can't see the 'cheaply made costumes'. Finally (and this is something I did not pick up at all in the theater), the film consists of six reels shot in six different cinematic styles. For example, one sequence features "the stiff acting and classical staging" of old Thai cinema.

Another penchant Weerasethakul owns up to is that he enjoys long takes. This was perhaps one of the most maddening aspects of Weerasethakul's film. Is it really necessary to hold the camera on a water buffalo, or someone driving a car or taking a shower for minutes on end? In essence, the director is more interested in indulging his own puerile whim than giving his audience a break.

As for the Boonme storyline, it's a meandering tale that lacks the basic ingredient of good drama: conflict! We're introduced to Boonme, an ex-soldier in the Thai army, who lives on a farm in the countryside, is on dialysis and dying of kidney failure. His sister-in-law, Auntie Jen, along with Tong, a nephew (one reviewer stated he was Boonme's cousin) come to visit. Bigoted Auntie Jen derides Boonme's housekeeper, Jai, for being an illegal immigrant from Laos but Boonme defends him, as he has been very helpful around the house, especially in regards to helping a dying ex-soldier.

While having dinner on the porch, the ghost of Boonme's deceased wife, Huay, makes an appearance and actually has a conversation with the three living family members. The presence of the unreal Huay undercuts the naturalistic scenes of Boonme coping with a terminal illness. Even more weird is the appearance of Boonme's son, Boonsong, now transformed into a 'ghost monkey' after running away from his family years ago and mating with a simian female. Boonsong is covered in monkey hair and also sports malevolent looking red eyes (reminiscent of Michael Jackson's red eyes in his classic video, 'Thriller').

Not much happens after the extraordinary appearance of Huay and Birdsong. There is a strange scene where an aging princess (with a complexion that looks like a bad case of acne) sees the reflection of herself as a beautiful woman in her younger days, in a pool of water. She's serenaded by a catfish while she floats in the water and she tells him that she realizes the younger image is only an illusion. The catfish (who is looking more and more like a stand-in for Uncle Boonme), tells her that he's convinced she's the same woman he loved in the past. The woman (who may represent Huay), insists the catfish's past love is also an illusion. Uncle Boonme has been redirected away from his past materialistic existence to accepting the idea that life is an illusion and one should accept death without fighting it.

Jen, Tong and Uncle Boonme make a trek to a cave where the uncle claims this is where he is born. He's now in full acceptance of death mode—he declares he's neither human or animal, man or woman. Boonme dies in the cave and we're treated to an exotic Buddhist funeral.

The epilogue finds us back in the material world. Jen and her younger friend, Roong, are counting funeral contributions in what appears to be a hotel room as a newscast blares on the TV. Tong is now doing service as a monk but has no qualms about taking a shower as Auntie Jen scolds him for leaving the monastery and turning his back on his spiritual commitments.

Weerasethakul is a frustrating character. Despite being a well-meaning fellow, he is also self-indulgent. Not everyone will share his love for the creepy conventions of comic books and old Thai TV shows. What's more, when one strips away all the hocus-pocus, Weerasethakul's story is simply about a man who comes to realize that his illness was brought on by living a false life but now can accept death as he is now more attuned to the unending cycles of nature.

For me, Boonme is only worth watching to catch a glimpse of the natural wonders of Thailand and its vibrant culture. For others, since 'Uncle Boombe' has a mystical veneer, its simplistic message is mistaken for something much more profound. As a result, accolades are heaped upon it, including the Palme d'Or. Until the judges stop conning themselves, a teenage sensibility will reign supreme at such venerable film festivals as Cannes, for many years into the future.


This is the first review I have written for IMDb and I felt compelled to do so after seeing this particular movie. I'm an expat living in Thailand with my Thai wife. I consider myself to be fairly open minded towards films that might be considered different and which might not appeal to a broader audience, whereas my wife typically prefers to stick with films that are popular with the masses. That said, my wife and I were curious about a Thai made film which had won a prestigious award from the Cannes Film Festival. Unfortunately, we were both quite disappointed in the film, which seemed to wander from scene to scene with little cohesion. In particular, the closing scene left us wondering what that was all about. I agree with the reviewers who wonder what the Cannes judges were thinking when they gave this film the top award. The director succeeded in making a very unique film, although I am not sure why it would appeal to anyone.


I want to apologize for all whose feelings I may hurt but if this film got Palme d'Or in Cannes then I'm definitely not going to watch the other nominees. I tried desperately to find at least something in "Uncle Boonmee" to understand other people's pure rapture for it but despite all my effort I just could not.

First of all, the story is not particularly interesting, is it? The better question would be is there even a story? This is a sequence of events that do not carry any message, which is not itself a big problem as I have seen plenty of good films without extraordinarily deep idea. But those films were at least incredibly beautiful instead. Some people mention beautiful shots but again I believe Thailand has more to show to the world. Another question keeps bothering me: "Uncle" has been labeled as comedy on IMDb. I would really appreciate if someone could name at least one joke in the whole film. Was it "Why do you have such long hair?" or maybe "Are your thoughts too dirty to be a monk?" If that is the case, I personally do not find neither of those particularly funny. I have to admit that my sense of humor is quite sophisticated though so maybe this is the problem.

And finally, to make it even worse, the film is unbearably boring with its low intensity and slow motion. Take for instance, journey to the cave. I do not see the rationale behind making half-an-hour long fragment out of it. Same holds for almost all the other film fragments.


This movie is getting either very good or very bad reviews. May be there are different versions out there?

The version I saw the other day in a cinema in Singapore was truly unbearable. I felt like my soul and body were separating to fight the terminal boredom. My wife proposed early exit, but I opted for the full brunt of this offense. The sense of crucification on the cross of boredom could possibly make this movie qualify as a religious experience. Not many movies achieve this level of pain so easily.

Hauntingly beautiful? I am sorry, there is really nothing beautiful in this movie, anyone who has seen movies by Kurosawa or Andrey Tarkowsky will know what beautiful can mean (as well as slow), but what is the beauty of an under lit minute long shot of a cow (sorry, of course water buffalo) standing in the greenery, or a long cave sequence which I probably could have filmed better with my Iphone?

This whole movie is a joke, and a cruel one at that.

Which makes me think, the opening sequence shows a lot of cultural organization which supported this movie, I guess apart from moral support this would finally boil down to money. In that sense this movie must have been a successful business venture, since how much could it possibly cost to film a naked guy under a shower for minutes, or some blurry stumbling around in a cave, which goes on forever, and for which obviously the first take was used for the movie. I guess with enough chuzpe it would be possible to crawl around under the cutting tables of other directors, pick up the rejects, and make successful, award winning movies, as long as a "cultural meta-structure" is provided to put all the suffering of the unsuspecting movie viewer into context.

Which seems to have worked very well in this case, considering the positive reviews and the Palme D'Or. What came second in Cannes? "Watching paint dry"?


I don't get why people would like this collection of movie shots. This could have been a very good movie, one that shows the many lives the old man has lived and seen.

In stead it is a incoherent pile of far too boring shots that are way too long and often should not have been included in the film. This feels like a book that has been literally transformed in a movie. Every line is captured and that is what makes this so bad. It's boring to the bone and most of all, most of the scenes don't make sense whatsoever. Even the end is like a totally new start.

The scene with the waterfall is one that is quite good in itself but yet again doesn't makes sense, it can't be placed within the storyline and thus fails to keep the attention.

I have taken 4 evenings to see this because I would literally fall asleep after watching more than 30 minutes of this. If the story was knit together, shots would have been cut back half and the director of this movie didn't pursue copying a book, this would have gotten quite a different review. Sadly this isn't the case...
Mitars Riders

Mitars Riders

For those who have not heard of Thai filmmaker and artist Apichatpong Weerasethakul, I guess you must have heard of his latest film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, winning the Palme d'Or at last year's Cannes Film Festival, and being the first Southeast Asian director to do so. That should interest you to take that leap of faith to experience the coming of Uncle Boonmee yourself, and that feeling of being frustrated yet enthralled, fascinated yet perplexed, all at the same time, fighting to stay engaged, and making sense of the visuals flitting around dreamscapes.

This film is like a diamond with many different cuts made to make it shine, each representing a facet from which you can choose to look at, or interpret from. Like a prism which dissipates light shone on it, your take on this film will likely be entirely different from mine, and what more, you'll probably have different takes on each of the different aspects of the film, since the scenes that make it up are as disparate as can be. It makes the film going experience a little more interesting since it's open, and never crystal clear given the takeaways for one based on one's journey in life thus far.

At its crux, the story is exactly that of its title, where we see Uncle Boonmee (Thanapat Saisaymar) living the last days of his life with kidney failure, choosing like most Asians do with the preference to live out the last days at the comfort of one's home, rather than at a sterile hospital. It is said that those on the death bed will see their life flash pass their eyes, but for Uncle Boonmee, his plodding walk toward the light at the end of the tunnel, means giving the film a lot more exploratory path to tread on, with a look at what his past lives were as well, ranging from the suggested buffalo, to even a member of the aristocracy (and that much talked about scene with the catfish. Hmm... maybe he could be the catfish too!)

Things get a lot stranger of course, even as it seems that Boonmee can remember his previous lives before reincarnation. As far as my limited grasp of that process goes, one has to drink up a liquid that will make you forget what you've gone through, and one's karma accumulation has bearings on what next you'll be incarnated, with the human form being quite OK, rather than an animal. I suppose Boonmee in his previous life did OK to be reincarnated as a human in this life, and in his last days get visited by his late wife (Natthakarn Aphaiwonk) with whom he shares a poignant, heart-wrenching scene with, and also a visit from his son (Geerasak Kulhong behind heavy makeup), whom you'd have already have an idea of from the various promotional material, and no, he's not captured in a picture just because the camera did not have an anti-red eye function.

Don't be shy if you don't understand the film. For starters, I suppose any film based on dreams and fantasy opens itself up to a lot of leeway in interpretation, and not taking everything verbatim, verbose or literal. Even the auteur himself has said that you "don't need to understand everything" in an interview with The Guardian, probably a relief for those like me who emerged from the screening with more questions than to know where to begin asking them. Like most art films, this one moves at a leisurely pace, and is filled with plenty of art house sensibilities and techniques, and while I won't say will reward the patient viewer, it will challenge you to think through about what you've just seen, and I felt it was easier to make sense of individual scenes, than as a whole when trying to fit the jigsaw in a coherent fashion.

To paraphrase Bruce Lee, this film is like water, having no form of its own, yet taking up form based on the viewer's individual experience and interpretation. I guess that's what makes Uncle Boonmee unique, coming from a filmmaker who's bold to conceptualize this piece of art that works itself through different strokes for different folks.


OK, I have seen my share of boring and meaningless movies, but this tops them all, no questions asked. Just to set things right, I'm no Hollywood-popcorn-movie-loving fan. I hate pre-fabricated obvious-plot movies. I'm into alternative cinema, like many of you self-appointed critics claim to be. I go to film festivals, and I watch long long Iranian, Japanese, afghan films, with little or no dialogs - and I like them, I really do!

I'm not trying to prove anything to anyone here, I just wanna make this review useful to others. So, don't take whatever I'm going to say as though I'm a senseless idiot, who likes to watch Spiderman movies and could never understand how poetic and beautiful a movie could be. Spare of the bullshit!

This movie, made me leave the theater after 1h30. Me and my wife, who also loves alternative movies, agreed we could no longer stay, and watch one of the most boring movies ever! I talked to a friend today, who shares almost exactly my taste in movies - he introduced my to Japanese cinema, and I thank him for that. He also left the theater, mid-movie. Magic coincidence.

This movie has absolutely nothing interesting about it. It does not have beautiful sceneries. It's shot almost entirely within the jungle, a regular jungle, not some magic beautiful jungle. It's very dark most of time, so you cant' really see anything. The characters are lame. The dialogs are stupid and pointless - holds absolutely NOTHING worth debating. Critics talking about Buddhism, philosophy and such, should sit a while and study those subjects and movies that REALLY accomplishes something in those subjects, instead of bullshitting about this movie being "philosophic".

There's nothing poetic about being pointless and lame. To make things worse, the movie presents absurd characters that adds absolutely nothing to the plot (oh sorry, I forgot, there is no plot).

I feel really sorry for everyone who sits for more than two hours ENDURING this movie, just because they don't wanna feel bad and walk-out on a critically acclaimed picture. Never again I will watch a movie I know nothing about just because it won Cannes or some critic blasphemed and called it "poetic" and "sublime".


Uncle Boonmee is dying from a kidney disease and decides to return to countryside to prepare for his death. With him are his nephew and sister in law and his Laotian carer. Over dinner one night the ghost of Boonmee's wife appears who thanks her sister for looking after her husband and tells him he has nothing to fear. The surrealism continues as an ominous dark creature with bright vivid red eyes appears and enters the room startling the group, but this 'monkey ghost' is actually the missing son of Boonmee. The film's story changes suddenly as we see a princess ashamed of her looks bath in a pool where she offers jewels to a catfish in the hope she will become beautiful and the catfish commits oral sex on the princess. We are then back with Boonmee as wife's ghost leads them through the jungle into a cave where Boonmee declares he was born. They fall asleep and when they awake Boonmee is dead. A Buddhist funeral follows and then the nephew, niece and sister in law sit in a hotel room contemplating life after the death of their loved one. This Thai film won the Palme D'Or at Cannes in 2010 and has divided audiences ever since. The film is a reflection on life and death and has many hidden meanings which for those of Buddhist mind may understand more than others. it starts very conventionally, even if a long languid scene of a cow seems irrelevant, but perhaps the cow is on of Boonmee's past lives. Beautifully shot, the lush of the natural surrounds are complemented by outstanding performances from the Thai cast with their softly spoken rhythmic language. When ghosts and monkey ghosts appear things becomes surreal and amusing; the reactions of the family are priceless, with the sister in law questioning why the son (the monkey ghost) has grown his hair so long, received one of the bigger laughs. Yet among the surrealism there are moments of pure beauty, such as when they eat the honey from the bee hive. The shift in story to the princess, seems to break the flow of the film, it perhaps suggests this is Boonmee recalling one of his past lives, but it does so ambiguously, perhaps he was the princess or perhaps he was the catfish. When we return to Boonmee, his time is limited and yet there is no sadness and if anything his death is expected making the event less than tragic. Hints at racism (the sister in law's dislike and fear of Laotian's) as well as the tragedy of war (Boonmee recalling fighting against the communists) suggests that beneath the surface there are deeper elements waiting to be discovered should the audience want to delve in deeper. But even if you don't this is a very well made, albeit ultimately art-house cinema, that as much entertains as it does confound.


I went to see 'Uncle Boonmee' with a friend. We desperately tried to stop laughing, but we couldn't.

It is quite simply the worst film I have seen in the past year. Art it is not, because art speaks to the soul. This travesty merely mumbles idiocies through drug-dampened lips. There is no narrative, which wouldn't be a problem if the experience was sufficiently diverting in other ways... but it isn't. There is little dialogue, which wouldn't be a problem if meaning was conveyed in any other way... but it isn't. The performances are frankly dire, and what dialogue the actors have is self-consciously meaningless.

In the film's favour are two things: First, the soundtrack. There's virtually none of it, but when it pops up with forest sounds or Carpenteresque ominous tones, it works well to establish mood. For this, I award the film 2 out of 10.

Second, the landscape. Thailand is beautiful... But shots are held longer than they should be held; this is the overlong holiday footage of someone in love with Thailand, interspersed with the pseudo-philosophical musings of an arrested adolescent, seeking "deep" words by throwing darts at a dictionary.

The score (and reviews) this film has collected says a lot about the pretentiousness of those who contributed. This is the "art" of a Tracey Emin or a Martin Creed. It's the "art" of ignorant waffling, it's the "art" of the idiot. The emperor has no clothes, and 7 out of 10 people so far are simply too wrapped up in self-aggrandising bandwagon-jumping to notice.


The film is about last days of its protagonist, Uncle Boonmee. And according to Wikipedia, the director said in an interview that "the cinema is also facing death...it's my own little lamination".

He meant the death of film - now everybody shoots digital. But to me, the real death of cinema (digital or not) is the fact that this totally uninteresting flick has received Palme d'Or in Cannes. It made me very sad, and in this convoluted way, the film has achieved its goal.

Yes, it has long scenes in which people stare at each other or at the scenery, and nothing happens. Yes, it tries to allude to things and some people are trying to guess what alludes to what. Yes, it has several "styles" employed and switches between them. Yes, it is intentionally shot on film.

But none of this makes it a piece of fine art just yet. Because you know, there has to be something else - and there was nothing. Just two hours of boredom.


Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (1:54, NR) — fantasy: supernatural, bargain basement, original

I didn't see this movie in a theater, but it had been getting good buzz, so I tracked it down on DVD. Some good came out of this, as I am now able to warn everybody else away from it.

I've got to give the film-makers credit for daring in being able to cram 20 minutes of what passes for plot into nearly 2 hours of running time. About half an hour in, I hit "fast forward" and watched the rest of the movie at double speed. AFAICT it didn't detract a bit from the story. Due to the exceedingly languid pace of absolutely everything, I was easily able to keep up with the sparse and lingering subtitles (except when, maddeningly, they committed the cardinal sin of continuing to use all-white lettering over a light-colored background).

Everybody in the movie seems to have ODed on Prozac. Nobody has any facial expression or (during the time when I had the original sound on) vocal inflection. There are vast amounts of standing around, interrupted only occasionally by vast amounts of sitting around and lying around. There are extended (2-8 minute) scenes of a guy taking a shower, 3 people reclining on a bed watching TV (which isn't visible to us), people sitting on the floor of a cave, people riding in a car, bubbles rising thru turbid water, and an escaped ox walking thru the forest. During none of these is a single word spoken. In all of them combined, the camera moves maybe 5 times. Nor does it feel compelled to switch (via either cut or zoom) from listeners to speakers. And, in case I hadn't stressed it adequately, the listeners show absolutely no facial reaction whatsoever to what's being said. None. It's as if they also had massive injections of Botox to go with their Prozac.

There is a single action scene. A princess (otherwise completely unrelated to the rest of the story) wades into a pond, discarding jewelry and clothing as she goes, does a back float, and allows a big catfish to have carnal knowledge of her. The princess is as soporific as all the other humans, but at least the fish seemed to be having a good time. More than I can say for me.

You remember how everybody smirked at the rubber-suited critters in the early Godzilla movies, or the other el cheapo creature features of the 1950s? Those guys would get Academy Awards for costuming compared to the dollar-store discards here.

I was half expecting to see Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland jump out at the end and say "Hey, kids, we've been putting on a show, with people who have never seen a show before and have no idea how to do one. Hasn't this been fun?"

No. No, it hasn't. Please don't ever do this again.


In the 2010 Palme d'Or winning "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives", Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul has elevated himself into a true visionary of the medium. His oeuvre culminating here in what must be called his magnum opus. Twining politics and intellectualism together by holding his native land close to his heart, he explores history, memories and cinema itself.

Weerasethakul's follow-up to 2006's "Syndromes and a Century" follows the final days of Uncle Boonmee (Thanapat Saisaymar), an ailing old bee farmer, who returns to his countryside abode in the north-eastern jungles with his sister-in-law, Jen (Jenjira Pongpas) and a male caretaker, Tong (Sakda Kaewbuadee). Weerasethakul attributes Boonmee's ailment -- kidney failure -- with an autobiographical nod to details of his father's own passing. The narrative structure stands at its most absurd but also at its sturdiest when Boonmee's state of mind and body brings forth the ghosts of his demised family members: his lost son Boonsong, who is now part of the monkey spirits residing in the jungle and has transformed into a striking hirsute crimson-eyed ape-man; and his dead wife Huay (Natthakarn Aphaiwonk), who appears at the dinner table in a remarkable scene where the veil between the living and the dead come down in the gentlest way possible.

The main scope is limited to these characters, as we observe them in moments of gilded reticence as they navigate through this time of great personal revolutions, food and final thoughts are divulged, until the deep wisdom of the film and filmmaker bubbles up to the fore. Deeply meditative and gentle, it brings us on a journey without tugging us along to show us one point after another; its mien remains as organic and serene to the nature of the filmmaker and its characters' own journey.

Ostensibly a film about transition, transmigration and the ontology of our evolution -- who we once were, who we are now and who or what we will become -- Weerasethakul pulls together ancient mysticism and visual cues to form an amorphous narrative that speaks about existence of the living earth and its relationship within and of itself; and how environments shape its denizens as individuals. The film contemplates our cosmic existence and attempts as serenely as possible to reassure us that everything is in order, that it all makes sense and that we are where we were meant to be. Reconciling his belief in the spirituality infused into nature and its relationship with the human experience, his belief in the idea of animism captivates Weerasethakul who regards the reincarnation of the soul and spirit into different forms; life never ends and death feeds into the next plane -- the renascence of energy and spirit and a transcendence beyond an established, ephemeral identity.

The song ends but the melody continues to linger -- the easy friction between the film's human and spiritual realms, proffered by the use of magic-realism, is at once supremely stirring as it is assuredly calming. In an excursion by Boonmee into one of his past lives, a particularly resplendent vignette of an aging princess yearning to be young once again who offers up her physical self to a talking catfish who promises her the beauty she once possessed. Entrenched with the otherworldliness of a ghostly folk tale from Weerasethakul's own youth and fanciful and erotically charged as Weerasethakul's own recent films, it points towards the filmmaker's syncretism of his own fractures memories and refined aesthetics.

There is a sense that Weerasethakul set out to make a film about his home and the vanishing spaces that his mind once occupied but along the way, stumbled upon the synthetic truth of cinema -- the film transforming into an earnest ode to the forgotten national cinema of his youth. He has described it as a way of preserving the memory -- the fabric of that point in the nation's cultural landscape -- through a hazy melange of related myths, idealised imagery and the shared experiences. He uses traditional techniques to create something new and revolutionary, eliciting a wonderful sense of exploring and pushing the boundaries of the medium by exploring the metaphysical through cinema and artistic fervour. By invoking the power of the screen and its abilities to meld its spatial and temporal realities with our reality beyond the projection, Weerasethakul observes the medium's propensity to not just reflect but alter history and the revision of certain truths.

Photographs play a large part of Weerasethakul's ode to permanence and the sense of past lives lived but never forgotten. Time is evoked as a Moebius strip where the past, present and future are in concurrent unity when members of his lost family turn up to relive the past or when Boonmee comments on the state of how things were before describing a future existence that begins to look remarkably like a present-day portrait of oppression in the volatile political maladies plaguing Thailand. Weerasethakul slyly alludes to political components inherent in his work -- a monk who finds ataraxic comfort in modernity rather than in the austerity of his robes or monkey spirits being led to torture by armed soldiers.

Touching on the dark history of the Nabua region it is set in and Boonmee recollecting his own role in the mutual slaughter of the Communists to Jen by invoking karma in considering his current illness, that he somehow deserves his fate. Jen responds that she was proud for having her father for serving the nation, yet resisted the violence by going into the jungle and hunting animals as well as communicating with them. This symbiosis of regret and avoidance signifying the suppression of violence as a natural impulse of humanity serves great purpose in looking through Weerasethakul's perspective of our natural internal states.


Perhaps it is because I've become addicted to classic cinema the last few years, but I find modern movies to be increasing shrill, clumsily assembled and soulless. One of the few directors breaking new ground while keeping his feet firmly planted in classic film making, Apichatpong Weerasethakul has crafted a work of art that defies simplistic interpretation.

Using the environment as the soundtrack instead of grating, discordant music so often spoiling films of our era, Boonmee bathes the viewer in succulent imagery, real life sounds and a spiritual depth that rings so true to the reality of our everyday lives, despite being set in rural Thailand. Like Antonioni, Weerasethakul understands the power of silence and the clarity of image.

Though not for everyone, it is a must see for anyone who treasures cinema. To my eyes and ears, it is a masterpiece. It is the way I wish more movies would be made - honestly, lovingly and lasting. And where else would you see a catfish making love to a princess and have it be so elegant. And where else would you found a line as beautiful and profound as, "Heaven is overrated. There is nothing there".