Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past...

(2010)

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

Review: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

Transcript for Review: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

IGNATIY VISHNEVETSKY:
So far this week on Ebert presents At the Movies, Christy and I have talked about a movie where a magical fedora allowed people to fold the fabric of space, and we just got finished talking about a movie where the main character was a talking chameleon. Neither of these things would be out of place in our next film: the sublimely weird UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES, the surprise winner of the top prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. The basic premise is right there in the title – Boonmee, a Thai man dying of kidney failure, is visited by the ghosts of his past.

CLIP 3 (“All I know is I was born here”)

IGNATIY:
Some have taken on new horrifying shapes, while others, like Boonmee’s long-dead wife, appear as they did while living.

CLIP 1 (“Are you here to take me away?”)

IGNATIY:
Because they aren’t introduced suddenly, all of the strange things – the monkey spirits, the catfish sex – that happen in this movie possess the matter-of-fact quality of a dream.

CLIP 4 (“Through the woods”)

IGNATIY:
This a story about a person who is slowly transitioning from life to death made in a medium – film – that is itself transitioning. What UNCLE BOONMEE succeeds at is making that transition visible.

CHRISTY:
Oh I’m sorry, is Uncle Boonmee done?  Did it finally ever end because I felt that I was slowly dying in a cave watching it.  

IGNATIY:
Why you gotta hate on the Boonmee Christy?

CHRISTY:
Why I gottta hate on Apichatpong Weerasethakul…you wanna say it?

IGNATIY:
A name I will say again and again.

CHRISTY:
Please say it…

IGNATIY:
Apichatpong Weerasethakul, the director of this film.

CHRISTY:
Thank you.  It’s fun to say, it’s not fun to watch and I found it so…

IGNATIY:
Really? I laughed, I laughed more times in this then Take Me Home Tonight.

CHRISTY:
You laughed? I laughed, but I’m not sure the laughs were intended.

IGNATIY:
I think they are intended, I think this film has a good sense of humor.

CHRISTY:
Ok, when the son shows up looking like Chewbacca out of nowhere and they’re all matter of fact about it like, “Wow, you look different.” Really that is meant to be a joke?

IGNATIY:
I think it is intended as a joke and in fact I’ve read an interview with thid director Apichatpong Weerasethakul…

CHRISTY:
Nicely done.

IGNATIY:
Where he talks about the fact that the look of the son was actually based on comic books and very crappy TV shows he had watched as a kid.

CHRISTY:
Crappy is a word I would use, yes.

IGNATIY:
That’s why he has glowing red eyes and is just represented by you know, a man in a hairy suit.

CHRISTY:
Ok, then the wife shows up.  The ghost wife shows up and they’re like, “Wow, you look great.” I mean it’s not like, Oh my God, you were dead and now you’re here!” You know the way a normal person would react to seeing their dead wife show up in ghostly form.

IGNATIY:
Well, at the same time, this isn’t about real people, it’s about these kind of spirits and other creatures.  I mean how do you feel perhaps about the films of David Lynch?  

CHRISTY:
I was going to say this reminded me more of the Gus Van Sant movies where nothing happens for a long, long time and I like David Lynch, I do and I like the weirdness of something like Inland Empire where they just show up in bunny heads all of a sudden, but this reminded me of those Gus Van Sant movies, but also of Sophia Coppola’s “Somewhere” where nothing happens for a long time, but with those I see the reason for holding the camera and letting life unfold.  Here it’s like a dude in a hammock looking at trees in the darkness.  Like, really?  The trees are just sitting there, you’re just sitting there.  We’re learning nothing and we are no better for this. 

IGNATIY:
I’ll admit, that not everyone is going to enjoy this movie.

CHRISTY:
No, very few people actually.

IGNATIY:
But at the same time, this is a film kind of for everyone.  It deals with such a basic theme and it expresses it very clearly I feel.

CHRISTY:
Alright well I’m not really sure what’s clear about any of that.