Set in the pastoral north of Thailand close to the Laos border, Uncle Boonmee (Thanapat Saisaymar) tends to his Tamarind farm. He’s dying from kidney disease when he’s visited by his sister and nephew from the city. During dinner they’re joined by the spirit of his deceased wife and his son that has transformed into a forest beast.
Just from the short description above, this movie should be interesting. It’s not. Many people are saying that this Uncle Boonmee is not a movie, it’s an experience. When the other worldly creatures appeared, I definitely thought this was going to get interesting. Unfortunately nothing happens. I certainly experienced 2 hours of my life being wasted.
The film has beautiful cinematography. However, I could have just watched the Discovery or Travel channel and still be ahead one hour.
There is one short segment jammed into the middle of the movie. It’s about a Thai princess in non modern times. She’s very ugly but is seduced by a catfish near a beautiful waterfall. Now that’s interesting! Sadly it’s only a 15 minute segment that really has no place being associated with the rest of the film.
All I can say about the acting and direction by Apichatpong Weerasethakul (with exception of the princess and the catfish scene) was at best amateurish. This film won the 2010 Palme d’Or at Cannes. I really don’t understand why. The jury headed by director Tim Burton and included actors like Benicio Del Toro and Kate Beckinsale gave Cannes highest prize to this film.
I’ve seen this before. It happens with all foreign films but I find it especially obvious with Asian films. Some Asian films have garnered high praise by film aficionados in the west, while in their home markets they fail to gain critical or commercial success. I often feel that way about art house China movies from the 90s or even Wong Kar Wai movies. Simply, they’re not very good, but are bizarrely adored by art house film community in the West. Uncle Boonmee qualifies as one of those films. This is an original film to be sure. It’s just not original enough to be entertaining.