reibureibu’s review published on Letterboxd:
One of the hardest films I've ever had to sit through, not because it's bad or boring but because it's the first film I've seen so far that captures, to an all-too-painful degree, my experience with tinnitus.
The auditory sensation that accompanies Joe's Memoria is almost-certainly the reason it's only ever officially playing in theaters, a sound that's quite difficult to describe in words (something the film itself acknowledges) but can be likened to a constant low roar, like being in a cavern next to the high tide. It's always there, never too loud, and often the daily textures of life do a good job overriding it. But when it gets quiet, when our character sits in silence on her bed at earliest dawn or wanders through her city park long after dusk, that low roar suddenly becomes highly overwhelming – a barely-something somehow becoming incredibly overbearing.
Can't quite pin down when this exactly started for me, but I remember thinking something was wrong with my hearing at least as far back as early teenage-hood. Doctors ended up saying it was nothing concrete, but now I just think I didn't know how to describe my tinnitus to them back then. And unfortunately it seems there isn't any treatment, a completely-individualized ailment that's a weird blend of the physiological and psychological which makes it so difficult to even alleviate. Personally, I've taken to putting on any and all background noises when possible (fans, television, an open window facing the freeway, etc.) as a way of superseding the ringing, and I have a feeling my tinnitus has even influenced my taste in music towards the ambient and noise as an unconscious response. Which makes power outages doubly-awful as I have nothing there to distract me from what is effectively a constant, dull, mental pain.*
So watching Memoria is like... weird. Like, really weird. Like purposely putting yourself through something that just drives you mad, but enduring it because nothing else has ever captured that madness that dwells in your head so well. There is this awful resonance as the low roar of this film and the high ringing of my ears harmonize in some unholy manner so as to create the most aggravating auditory experience I've ever encountered. So why sit through it?
Towards the end our character confesses that despite having been haunted by something she can't escape from, she now wants more. This is, again, weird, right? And yet I somehow totally understand. After being plagued by this invisible, unreachable, nondescript sound, she finds the only cure is to drown in it. I find myself in her.
* to be clear, it's more just constantly annoying rather than debilitating, though hard to know if i've just gotten used to it after a lifetime; for some people it can be truly life-altering and i'm thankful that mine is relatively mild!