THAILAND: Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010)

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is a subtle movie, with long shots and deep silences, mixed in with sharp stylistic changes and magical realism.

Uncle Boonmee is a farmer in northern Thailand, slowly dying of kidney disease. In his last days, his sister-in-law Jen and her son Toong come to visit to give him comfort and arrange his affairs. Boonmee’s dead wife (Jen’s sister) reappears as a ghost, who quietly joins back into the family, including helping with the mundane, like draining Boonmee’s kidney, and giving him comfort at his own approaching death. The past emerges in hints of other lives, as well as the return of Boonmee’s son, who has lost himself to the forest and become an ape spirit.

And yet for all the supernatural elements, it’s really an ambiguous and almost meditative movie about facing death and grieving.

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