Festival Film: Memoria with Tilda Swinton



Memoria  is beautifully filmed and imaginative – unconventional, as there is little plot. It is more like a meditative and sensory experience, dealing with memories, space and time, sound, communication with the natural world, history, and mystery.

Director Apichatponp Weerasethakul ( often called  Joe) is recognised as one of the most original film-makers. His seven features, many short films, installations, visual and live performance art have brought him widespread international recognition, and many awards.

He promotes experimental and independent film-making often working with non-actors. This is his first film shot out of Thailand, and the first with an international cast. It won the Jury Prize at the 74thCannes Film Festival.


Jessica (sensitively played by award winning Tilda Swinton) suffers from a real condition known as Exploding Head Syndrome, a sleep disorder which causes people to hear loud noises coming in or out of deep sleep. She is visiting her ill sister in Columbia and as the film opens as she is awakened by the sound of something like a sonic boom which appears to sets off car alarms, which no-one hears.




She visits Hernan (Juan Pablo Urrego) a sound technician, to try to replicate the sound but he appears not to exist on her return, and there are memory lapses in conversations with her sister. She is sleepless, unsettled, and wanders the streets of Bogota.



Later she strikes up a friendship with Agnes (Jeanne Balibar) an archaeologist studying 6000 year old human skeletons discovered in a tunnel under construction, who shows her a hole in a skull of a young girl which might have been made to release evil spirits.

In a small town nearby she walks in beautiful countryside along a small river with a backdrop of majestic mountains and comes across another Hernan (Elkin Diaz) cleaning fish. He says that he has never left this village, and claims to remember everything that has ever happened to him. They develop a rapport and she acts as an antenna to his memories. She asks him to show her how he sleeps which he does (flat out on the grass, and appears to die) and later they drink his home-made strong herbal alcoholic brew.



Cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom does a brilliant job and Cesar Lopez’s original music adds a great deal to this movie.

There is a lot to think about in this reflective slow paced film.

136 minutes.

English and Spanish languages with English subtitles.

Showing at UWA Crawley from Monday 24thto Sunday 30thJanuary at 8 pm. Wednesday 26thJanuary at 8.30 pm.

Watch the trailer…