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Review Of "Memoria": Nothing Is What It Seems

Apichatpong Weerasethakul's film is a reward for the patient audience willing to listen. Here is our review of Memoria.

Trailer of the movie 'Memory'

Memory is a film that manages to play with our senses the moment we sit in front of the screen. Photo: YT-Movie Trailers

LatinAmerican Post | Valentina Villamizar Guerrero

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Leer en español: Reseña de “Memoria”: nada es lo que parece

Memoria is a Colombian film, which in addition to having been awarded the Jury Prize at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, conquered social networks thanks to a photo of the cast posing with the Colombian flag and a message of “SOS”.

Due to the police violence that was taking place in the country due to the National Strike (simultaneously with the award ceremony in Cannes), the actors carried the flag to the red carpet as a show of support for Colombia. However, this photograph has served as a source of confusion for many who have come to believe that Memoria is based mainly on problems that afflict the country every day, such as the armed conflict. Despite this, the director of the film, the Thai Apichatpong Weerasethakul, called on the government of Colombia and other countries while receiving the award to "listen to their people." “Memoria is about the vibration of those energies and connections. It's about the dream of improving” mentioned Apichatpong during his speech.

What the director meant is explained in the film's official synopsis: “Jessica (Tilda Swinton) can't sleep since a loud bang interrupted her sleep at dawn. While visiting her sister in Bogotá, she befriends Agnes (Jeanne Balibar), an archaeologist who studies human remains discovered inside a tunnel under construction. Jessica travels to meet Agnes at the excavation site and, in a nearby town, meets a fisherman named Hernán (Elkin Díaz). They both share memories by the river and when the day draws to a close, Jessica wakes up with a sense of clarity. "

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Memoria, a game with the senses

Memoria is a film that manages to play with our senses the moment we sit in front of the screen. It has a disturbing beginning, accompanied by a strong sound that puts the public on edge. And not only is it disturbing for viewers, it is also for Jessica (Tilda Swinton), who, as a result of this, begins a certain kind of journey of recognition and memories, as if something had called her, forcing her to get answers.

On the other hand, the film manages to transport us to quiet scenes and moments despite taking place in everyday life and the frenzy, mostly, of the city of Bogotá. However, this film can be indecipherable for many who are used to a type of cinema with more action and fewer messages to interpret.

Despite its slow development in its 2 hours and 16 minutes duration, the film represents characteristic elements of the country where it was filmed without the need to fall into the usual discourse of violence, armed conflict, drug trafficking, etc., than others foreign projects have been commissioned to highlight. In Memoria, we see a surprisingly serene Colombia where we can visualize through Jessica (Tilda Swinton), objects that highlight characteristics of the region, for example, religion, vegetation, life in the city and the countryside, etc. All this is accompanied by a static cinematography in the camera, but vibrant in its elements, which stand out with a suggestive mix of sound, faithful to the style of the director.

Without a doubt, this is a movie that, as it progresses, generates more questions than answers. In turn, it unconsciously leads us to connect either with the story or with the viewers who make a joint effort to understand what Apichatpong really wants to show us through all this science fiction enigma in the middle of Colombian magical realism.