Expat florist Jessica wakes to the sudden sound of a mysterious boom. She hears it again walking down the streets of Bogotá, and again having a short rest after visiting her sister Karen in hospital – a mysterious respiratory complaint that goes almost as swiftly as it starts. She finds a sound engineer to recreate this noise – round, metallic, like a concrete ball dropped into a well of seawater. She befriends an archaeologist working to save and catalogue remains from ancient civilisations, those disturbed by developers like her sisters’ company. Meanwhile, the mysterious earth-shattering noise cracks through her life with no answers or peace. 

But at the heart of Memoria, none of this plot matters. Artist and filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul is a master of slow cinema, and Memoria feels more like a meditation than a narrative. The camera lingers for minutes on static scenes – trees, grass, and sleeping figures – with barely a breeze indicating that film is rolling. This stillness invites the mind to wander, encouraging reflection on the world taken for granted outside of Jessica’s own revelations, before pulling the viewer intensely and alarmingly back with each sonic boom. By the time an almost sci-fi conclusion is reached, the maddening, reflexive journey has revealed little but peace and beauty. The balance of atmosphere, independent discovery, and scripted plot is pushed too far in each direction for any one to fully work. 

But there is no better guide through this dreamlike world than Tilda Swinton’s Jessica. Her ethereal performance balances the robustness of an independent, exploratory life with the delicate uncertainty of unasked – perhaps undiscovered – questions. 

Frustrating, beautiful, and mesmeric, Memoria is at its best when revelling in the world’s myriad sounds – be they a surprise jazz quartet or the lively bugs and birds of the Columbian Amazon. 



CAST: Tilda Swinton, Elkin Díaz, Jeanne Balibar, Juan Pablo Urrego, Agnes Brekke

DIRECTOR: Apichatpong Weerasethakul 

WRITER: Apichatpong Weerasethakul 

SYNOPSIS: A Scottish woman, after hearing a loud ‘bang’ at daybreak, begins experiencing a mysterious sensory syndrome while traversing the jungles of Colombia.