A film that manages to be
life affirming while whimsical about death in stunning measures.
Boonmee is a film the likes of which are rarely, if ever, seen. It dispels with
preconceptions and manages to transcend the medium of film in a truly unique
fashion. On one level it is the story of a man coming to terms with his imminent
death, on the other it intelligently allows the audience to become part of his
emotions and the sweeping tranquillity that accompanies them as acceptance
from kidney failure Uncle Boonmee (Saisaymar)
invites his sister-in-law Jen (Pongpas)
to his farm, deep in rural Thailand. One evening over dinner Boonmee’s deceased
wife Huay (Aphaiwong) appears before
them. What follows is a series of stories and encounters, including the return
of Boonmee’s missing son Boonsong (Kulhong)
who has been transformed into a spirit monkey, that shape Boonmee’s
understanding of the after life.
of the Palme d’Or Award at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, Uncle Boonmee sets
out to inject certain thoughts and emotions into the audience and does so with
such subtlety you will wonder if you have watched the film or merely dreamt it.
We are presented with a series of images and stories that, while on their own
make little sense, culminate in a love letter to life and the great beyond. Many films that instil death as a central
theme use heavy handed tactics but Uncle Boonmee allows it to wash over you,
like a cool breeze on a hot day.
Weerasthakul keeps the pacing
languid but the colour pallet wonderfully pastel and delicate. Furthermore, he
positions the camera at a distance for much of the film lending to a etheral
quality of something we must strive to find, further highlighting the gap
between this world and the next. There
is no great mystery to be unravelled, although Boonmee is analysing his lives,
but instead a sense of peaceful wondering.
has been likened to a David Lynch film,
and in addressing the space between dream and reality or life and death it
bears similarities, but it is executed with a less dramatic flair. The opening
ten minutes sees a cow break free of its tether, wondering through a forest
only to be found and taken back by a subdued farmer. The meaning of this moment
is intentionally vague but set in the dying embers of the day it is clear there
is a higher power at work. The
spirituality of the film is vital to embracing the bizarre context. The
appearance of Boonsong as a spirit monkey is at first unsettling. However, with
his soft tones and delicate mannerisms you find yourself drawn to this
extraordinary creation that lulls you into his fantastical world.
Like fine alcohol Uncle
Boonmee is utterly intoxicating but for some will leave their head spinning.
But allow it to wash over you and it has the ability to act as a gentle massage
to the mind.