What’s it about?
Visiting her sister in Bogota, Jessica (Tilda Swinton) is awoken by a loud bang, audible only to her. Restless and disoriented, she roams the city in search of an explanation for the mysterious sound. Despite being present throughout, Jessica’s motives remain opaque and her encounters enigmatic. Soon she begins to confront the unsettling sights and sounds that call her identity into question.
How is it?
Memoria’s strength as a film lies in its ability to be focused on what it is and not try to cram too much into a film for the sake of it. What we are treated to is a multilayered look at searching for connection, meaning and purpose. Stylistically, the film plays on contrasts: the continuous thud (or bang) Jessica here’s intermittently throughout the film provides the literal heartbeat of the film which provides the necessary tension; whilst the story feels like it develops slowly enough to appreciate all the nuance in Jessica’s journey. The use of natural sounds of Jessica’s environment contrasted with the cold mechanical thud that is central to the story provides another element of contrast which provides a unique stylistic quality to this film.
Style & Substance
Although a lot of emphasis can be placed on the stylistic elements of the film director, Apichatpong Weerasethakul has crafted a film with a fine balance of both style and substance. Tilda Swinton gives an engrossing performance as Jessica, the key to her performance is her relationship with Hernan – which plays out wonderfully through the film and pays off at the start of the final third of the film. The closer Jessica gets to the source of this noise, the more she is able to question and discover more about herself and her purpose. The focus is very much on Jessica’s journey and self-discovery, as such, the supporting cast, with the exception of Elkin Díaz’s Hernan, are not the focus of character development. This narrowing of focus does actually help to keep the film focused. The ending is bold in the direction it chooses to take, which might not satisfy everyone, but is certainly a point of discussion.
Rating: (4.5 / 5)
Apichatpong Weerasethakul has created a film that is a very intriguing mix of arthouse, thriller and Sci-Fi – an intriguing & introspective sensory journey.
Memoria is released in U.K cinemas on 14th January 2022