Who's In It: Thanapat Saisaymar, Sakda Kaewbuadee, Jenjira Pongpas
The Basics: Boonmee is dying, and the life he is soon to leave behind is just one of several he has had. As his life draws to a close, his house is filled with the now-visible ghost of his dead wife, his son that disappeared and turned into a Monkey Ghost, and even some real people too. He fades in and out of his past lives, just as the title indicates, and they are a doozy. Jimmy Page ain't got nothing' on Boonmee.
What's The Deal: This movie is stunning. It took me awhile to get used to director Apichatpong Weerasethakul's long takes and quiet scenes, but after the first ten minutes, I fell under his spell. This is the kind of film for the attention span of days long gone by, where the simple beauty of the story was allowed to unfold and breathe. It's like the Thai version of Barry Lindon, with an ethereal beauty and reverence for nature. This also makes it not for everyone--expect long takes of drives down rural roads, oxen in the forest, and sitting next to bodies of water. To me, this movie was like two hours of meditation--a blissful escape from a hectic world.
Not To Say That It's Boring: The movie is anything but. The only difference is, you have to pay attention to see why it's totally crazy, because the viewer isn't spoon fed with computer-generated sparkles or monsters. In fact, it's even harder to distinguish what is insane and what isn't, because the characters regard Monkey Ghosts with the same aplomb reserved for chopping down a tree or fixing a stir-fry.
I Will See it Three More Times: Because I definitely didn't catch everything on the first try. There's a lot going on here, and even though it satisfies on a more obvious fantasy level, there's certainly a deeper meaning to it. After winning the Palme D'Or at Cannes in 2010, many discussions have arisen regarding the film's references to communism, memories, karma, and the predicament of life itself. Feel free to seek those out while I just discuss the fact that Boonmee used to be a princess who gives both jewels and her womanhood to a catfish right in the middle of a lake. WIth a waterfall, even! Holy smokes. And somehow, it didn't feel that sensational. In the world of the film, Boonmee's forest is teeming with enchantment, and it makes perfect sense that his many lives embody that same spirit.
The Bottom Line: See this film if you are longing to see something truly outside the box that you can't get in any local multiplex. Regardless of how you feel about it, you will have a great discussion afterwards, which makes it worth the price of admission.