Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives Movie Review
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is a 2010 Thai drama film directed by Arichatpong Weerasethakul. It is an overrated and frankly dull movie.
The film explores the subject of reincarnation and although I am fascinated by that subject, I found its execution here to be very flawed and disappointing. The film is a typical arthouse film in that it focuses on the cinematography, scenery and slow pace instead of its story and characters. It was just way too leisurely paced for me to be involved in it. I get what the director was going for as a slower pace is in line with the film’s mood and plot, but that still doesn’t change the fact that the movie is immensely boring to watch.
The characters are frustratingly underdeveloped. The titular character gets the most development and he is the standout character here plus his wife is solid and the relationship between the two leads to some moving moments, but the rest of the characters are honestly non-entities as they are either forgettable or underused.
The acting is solid, but nothing particularly remarkable. And the direction from Arichatpong Weerasethakul is so annoying and is the biggest reason why I didn’t particularly like this movie. But yes, its scenery is stunning. I loved the cinematography here and the natural landscapes are wonderfully utilized into the plot and so effective. I loved the lake sequence as it was visually arresting, though basically a detour in terms of storytelling. I also loved some of the longer takes on the nature and even though those takes led to a slow and tedious film, I still really liked some of them.
The dialogue is solid in Uncle Boonmee, but never as inspiring or as strong as it should have been for this type of film. The movie is too ambiguous and too mysterious. Yes, that tone was at times effective and led to an interesting viewing experience, but it was in the end a lazy excuse to not delve deeper into its thought-provoking themes and ideas. The film need a stronger dialogue and a more sophisticated approach without a doubt.
As for its emotional engagement, it does have some really heartwarming and touching sequences, but the filmmakers decided to stay on the cold side for the most time resulting in too cold a movie for my taste. As I said, it is badly paced and problematically directed. And as for its fantasy elements, I found them interesting to say the least. Some of those elements were too weird with Boonsong in particular being odd and unappealing, but I get why the movie has those things as the storyline demands it. I just wish that the film utilized them more and explored some of those creatures and phenomena much more. So you can easily see the pattern here – Uncle Boonmee is a film that is intriguing and deals with a fascinating subject matter, but it never delves deeper into those themes and just decides to stick with the scenery as its sole focus and that was so frustrating to follow. It received the Palm d’Or at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival and it is one of the most famous, if not the most famous, Thai films ever. And unfortunately I found it to be overrated and so incredibly disappointing.