Feature

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

In this “much-celebrated” film from Thailand, a dying farmer who believes in reincarnation summons up visions from past lives.

Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul
(Not Rated)

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This “dream-like” and “much-celebrated” film from Thailand is sometimes resistant to logical analysis, said Joe Morgenstern in The Wall Street Journal. Uncle Boonmee, a dying farmer who believes in reincarnation, is able to summon up visions from past lives and even converse with his late wife and son from this one. “I can’t pretend to understand the intricacies of the Buddhist belief system” that accounts for each mythical creature we see on-screen, but understanding isn’t necessary. “Those who insist on a linear narrative” may get frustrated, said A.O. Scott in The New York Times. But this is “not a difficult film,” and if you’re patient, “it can produce something close to bliss.” The key to understanding why, for instance, a catfish seduces a princess in one scene is that, for a Buddhist, “there is no real boundary between past and present, dream and reality, body and spirit.” So forget the rules of Western storytelling, said David Lewis in the San Francisco Chronicle. This “boldly original, oddly affecting meditation on the afterlife will linger in your consciousness (or subconsciousness)” for as many lives as you live.

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