As I type, I am sitting on a stone patio in the back of the carriage house behind a mansion on East Avenue in Rochester, New York. The breeze picks up now and then, the cicadas rise to the chorus, and the birds offer an intermittent tweet. In this equation, I am the tiniest of Russian dolls.
This experience may have felt beautiful before yesterday, but due to seeing the film Memoria (written and directed by Apuchatpong Weerasethakul) yesterday at the Little Theater (yes, big screens matter), this particular backyard of a backyard is more than the sum of its natural parts, becoming even more universal and profound.
To add to this heightened sense of oneness is who I saw the movie with…my son, now a man at 29, but again due to the aid of cinematic art, also still the infant I cradled lovingly soothing him as his bottle warmed, the toddler I thrilled to watch squeal with delight in his kiddie pool in our Rush country home backyard, etc. etc. connected forward to the coiffed side-burned muscular man he is now. Another Russian doll, this time in man form.
Memoria is the film that can provide that level of intensity. Don’t get me wrong, while experiencing the 2 hour 16 minute non-linear, long shot movie, I sometimes felt uncomfortable, but at the same time I was also transfixed. Only later did I value the importance of the experience. And isn’t that, after all, the definition of life? We rarely realize the importance of THIS moment, the now, until we’re down the road a pike. Same with Memoria, which often times painstakingly makes us listen to sound and silence, forcing us to place ourselves in the interconnectedness of past, present and future.
Starring Tilda Swinton, the film portrays a woman in Columbia visiting her sister, who continues to hear an alarming sound and consequently seeks out possible sources, reasons and explanations. Her search takes us through museums, music rooms, restaurants, shopping districts, bone excavations and native houses.
If you dare to view this at home, promise me to tie yourself to the couch, shut off all media and close the drapes. Only then will you hear/feel the same experience I did.