Magazine article Screen International

Cemetery of Splendour

Magazine article Screen International

Cemetery of Splendour

Article excerpt

Dir/scr Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Thailand/UK/France/Germany/Malaysia. 2015. 122mins

Past lives, shared histories and a fluid sense of personal and national identity are the familiar concerns addressed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul in Cemetery Of Splendour (Rak Ti Khon Kaen), his first major feature since Palme D'Or winner Uncle Boonmee in 2010. Working through a largely linear narrative creates a more approachable piece than many of his previous films, suggesting the potential to broaden his core arthouse audience. " Slow cinema" lovers and devoted followers of the director should also find enough to mull over in this mysterious, melancholic feature to feel that none of his distinctive vision has been compromised for the sake of accessibility.

There are shades of the patients treated by Oliver Sacks in Awakenings in the story of a strange sleeping sickness that has overwhelmed a group of soldiers. A former school has been transformed into a temporary clinic where the men now lie slumbering.

Volunteer Jenjira (Weerasethakul regular Jenjira Pongpas Widner) maintains a vigil at the bedside of handsome soldier Itt (Banlop Lomnoi), watching over him and massaging his body. She has clear memories of the hospital when it was a school and reminders of the past are all around. She makes friends with young medium Keng (Jarinpattra Rueangram) who reveals that the grounds were once a graveyard for kings and their spirits could now be accessing the energy of the sleeping soldiers. …

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