It is a film as we rarely see. Winner of the jury prize at the 74th Cannes Film Festival, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s “Memoria” is released in theaters this November 17 and offers a unique sensory experience. Meeting with Tilda Swinton.
“A divine experience“. This is how Tilda Swinton describes her collaboration with Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Divine, this experience is also for the spectators. With Memoria, the Thai director marks the spirits wherever he goes. As in Cannes, in July 2021 , where the film received the jury prize, tied with Ahed’s Knee by Nadav Lapid.
Both spiritual and bewitching, Memoria follows Jessica, a horticulturalist, awakened in the middle of the night by a thud and terrifying noise, similar to a gunshot or a weight falling on a metal plate. What is that sound? Where is he from ? What does it mean? Haunted by this parasite that invades her mind, the heroine will try to find its origin by following her senses to better reconnect with others and with herself.
Inhabited, as in most of her film roles, Tilda Swinton goes through the film like a sleepwalker and cultivates the mystery around this heroine in search of meaning. “There are a whole lot of fantasies around this character, underlines the actress met during an interview in Cannes. Is she really present? Is it a ghost? Is she in mourning? Does it come from the past, from the future, from another planet? There are so many questions and we have tried not to give any answers.”
This meeting with Apichatpong Weerasethakul sounds obvious as the two artists seem to have been made to work together. The first time Tilda Swinton saw one of her films was in 2004, when she was a member of the jury at Cannes. The filmmaker presented Tropical Malady there and already received the jury prize. A first for a Thai director. “I was impressed and, as often when we are impressed, I felt something very familiar, remembers the British star when talking about the director. It was like a big bell ringing inside me. It was like he and I were from the same tribe. ”
In Memoria, only the atmosphere counts. The film dwells time and again on the silence that reigns around Jessica as she travels the world in search of an answer. “I don’t think Apichatpong told me about the script, the character, or any other artifice. He wanted to maintain this atmosphere, not freeze anything and make everything flexible. It was lucky for me because that’s also what interests me in this job.”
Alongside this heroine, there is this omnipresent sound, this “boom”, which resounds in the room and provokes a reaction in the character as in the spectators. “It’s like there is a bomb in the cinema ”, describes Tilda Swinton. This is the other protagonist of the film. “This noise is like the end of the world. To hear it, you have to make yourself available. It’s like a method of meditation: you have to be detached to observe from the outside. Now our world is moving so fast, it holds us all so tight that we can’t see anything.”
On the other side of the Atlantic, in the United States, the film is released in an unprecedented way: it is offered on one screen at a time, before changing cities each week and should never be released in video format. . A way of preserving the cinema experience and paying homage to the promise of this extraordinary work, one of whose obsessions is to capture time. Memoria was chosen to represent Colombia at the 94th Academy Awards.
Memoria by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, in theaters on November 17th.
Interview by Thomas Desroches, in Cannes, July 16, 2021.
Check out the trailer: