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Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019

Movie Review: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

A surrealist film from Thailand has won the top prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival, edging out two British favourites for the award. Read on for full review of this film.

india Updated: May 24, 2010 21:12 IST

Hindustan Times


Gautaman Bhaskaran

Director-artist Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Palm d’Or winning, Uncle Boonmee Who Can recall His Past Lives was certainly not on the list of critics’ favourites. Yet, in what is seen as an upset win, the movie walked away with the top honours on the closing night of the 63rd Cannes Film Festival.

Recounting a simple story structured in a complex subtext, Uncle Boonmee… is modestly engaging and visually beautiful. Set in Thailand, the work often resembles a painter’s canvas, the colours added with much thought and the frames lit ethereally.

Uncle Boonmee’s (Thanapat Salsaymar)liver is failing, and he wishes to spend his last days in the Thai countryside, surrounded by his family. To his enormous surprise, his dead wife’s ghost (Natthakarn Aphaiwonk) and his long lost son return to be by his bedside. The son looks like an ape, having muted into one after a relationship with the animal. Boonmee begins to recall his past lives, and finally treks along a jungle with his family to a mysterious cave, where he was born for the first time. This is where he would like his present life to end.

The helmer, whose previous films include Syndrome and a Century and Tropical Malady, never lets us know what exactly Boonmee’s earlier lives were. Was he a buffalo that escapes from a farm or a catfish or a fly? I suppose it is for the viewer to let his or her imagination wander.

Uncle Boonmee… is elegant and stunning to look at in places, particularly during the jungle trek that the man takes. Strictly arthouse, this is not a work for the casual viewer. But many of the images would stay on, for, so riveting were they.

First Published: May 24, 2010 17:05 IST

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