Strange things are happening at Uncle Boonmee’s farm in the lush greenery of Thailand’s countryside. The ghost of his dead wife materializes at the dinner table followed by a man-like monkey spirit who turns out to be his long-lost son. Boonmee has a fatal kidney condition and as he closes in on death the spirits solidify and become more real. In the jungle a fable plays out of an aged princess who sacrifices her treasure to an amorous catfish in order to become “white and pretty” like her illusory reflection in the water.
As Boonmee settles his accounts he recalls his dark past, killing communists for his country. Boonmee descends deep into the jungle down a primeval cavern—the seeming heart of the country—to die. Here he has a disturbing dream of a militaristic future.
Boonmee’s life and death is part allegory on Thailand’s past, present and future. Modern technologies of cell phone, television and a bug zapper are conspicuous within the traditional world of Boonmee’s farm. After Boonmee’s death a monk casually sheds his robes, takes a hot shower, and changes into western clothes. Different from the personal ghost in Boonmee’s wife and the forest spirit that his son became, the new ghosts and spirits arise wandering and spiritually disconnected in a modern alienating world.
‘Uncle Boonmee’ is a slow, meditative and often baffling journey visually gorgeous and worth taking.
Intermedias reviewer at VIFF 2010
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul