Written by Taylor Baker
The experience of viewing Memoria is similar to that of being in a sensory deprivation tank. You feel isolated as you watch it, unsure of what’s happening, whether or not you’re imagining things, and exactly how much time has passed. In it Tilda Swinton plays Jessica Holland, an orchid farmer visiting her sister in Colombia. One day she hears a loud bang and begins to slowly wander in pursuit of an answer to its source. She has a meeting setup by acquaintances with a man who may be able to digitally replicate the sound she heard. Over the course of their meeting with her feedback he is able to nearly replicate the sound. Later at dinner with her sister and her sisters husband she confuses a man they know for having passed away. In these moments and other like them Memoria tips the edges of our mind toward dreamlike disbelief. Despite the fact that it is overtly and purposefully firmly rooted in the tedium of the life that Holland is leading.
Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria is both romantic and hallucinatory, sumptuously presented and emotionally engaging piece of magical realism that explores and expands the limitations of human experience. When watching it you cease to notice Apichatpong’s directorial choices, the stunning work of Sayombhu Mukdeeprom’s camera, and the edits by Lee Chatametikoo, unless you actively focus on them. It functions on a nearly seamless level of complete attention. It’s moments of transcendence occur almost inexplicably in mundane locations like the basement of a recording studio while a band performs and along the banks of a river as a man scales fish. Each cinematic bliss.
Memoria is playing in limited theatrical release.