Cemetery of Splendour ★★★★★

The films of Apichatpong Weerasethakul are subtle and beautiful and enigmatic with a sense of play to them. At times they are almost trance-inducing and he takes bold steps in taking a mundane approach to magic realism where you are not sure what is real and what is not. His previous feature, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, was an amazing journey through the past lives of a man as he was dying. Filled with subtle beauty and an elaborate structure that blended various genres and styles of Thai cinema and culture, it's dense and challenging at times, but rewarding.

His earlier film Tropical Malady is more subtle and tells the love story of two soldiers with a stunning transformation in style and tone in the middle of the film. In his 2006 film Syndromes and a Century he sets the action in a hospital in telling the story of two doctors (based on his parents). With Cemetery of Splendour he has a more accessible film featuring Jenjira Pongpas in the lead (who appeared in Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives as well as Weerasethakul's earlier features) and the two soldiers from Tropical Malady.

Weerasethakul brings many of his elements together to create a story built around Pongpas as a volunteer in a makeshift hospital in a former school that is also was the site of a cemetery and former palace. Jen went to the school, so she has her memories of the school before it was a hospital. The hospital's patients are soldiers suffering from a sleeping sickness where they rarely wake. The spirits from the past are around the area and a local temple providing another set of memories.

The film is meditative with long takes and delicately composed frames and at one point even features some guided meditation. Slowly creating a world and a rhythm, the film is peaceful and beautiful moving into abstraction at times with different colours filling the world as we return to locations and notice small and strange and wonderful things. Transcendent and beautiful cinema from a confident and unique voice.