Cemetery Of Splendour

4 December 2015 | 1:45 pm | Sam Hobson

"Cemetery Of Splendour continues the director's penchant for mixing the surreal with the real."

Much more languid, and definitely lighter in tone than Apichatpong Weerasethakul's previous (and terrific) film, 
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
Cemetery of Splendour 
will be a tough watch for those unaccustomed to the Thai auteur's style — long, ponderous shots, often of nothing but the space a character recently inhabited, or something so mundane as to be perverse, or something completely unrelated to the story, but more about the 'world' in which the story's happening — but otherwise presents a sumptuous, immensely rewarding experience for those welcoming or hungry for what this truly masterful director does.

The film's story centres around a war hospital, set up in what looks like an an abandoned primary school in Thailand. We only ever see a single room, and it's mostly filled with sleeping soldiers who never wake. In order to aid the soldiers' dreams, the hospital buys a series of giant glowing tubes that constantly shift in colour beside their beds. One of the volunteer nurses, Jenjira, is a particularly spiritual woman, and Weerasethakul tracks her matter-of-fact to meditative experience while looking after these men.

Cemetery Of Splendour continues the director's penchant for mixing the surreal with the real in ways so mundane and slight they either bristle you with their sudden uncanniness or add a layer of quiet beauty to the film's interpretation of the world and its characters. A stunning film, and one that continues to paint a vivid picture of a culture for whom spiritualism and pragmatism exist as one in the same.