Haunting and transcendent

Tilda Swinton stars in Memoria, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s poetic mystery that won the Palme d’Or at last year’s Cannes Film Festival.

In filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s eerily poetic, unforgettable Memoria, Tilda Swinton plays Jessica, a British botanist in Colombia who awakens one night to a mysterious, loud boom that, over the course of successive days — or maybe weeks, it is deliberately unclear — seems to haunt her, both figuratively and literally.

She seeks out the services of Hernán (Juan Pablo Urrego), a young sound engineer, hoping Hernán’s expertise and digital effects library might help her re-create the pitch, echo, and timbre of the tone, which she likens to a “big ball of concrete falling into a metal well, surrounded by seawater.” (Jessica’s first assumption was that the sound must have been due to construction next door.)

Jessica also consults a doctor (Constanza Gutierrez), complaining of lingering anxiety and insomnia, in the wake of the noise. Elsewhere — outside, after an encounter with a stray dog; in a restaurant, while dining with her sister (Agnes Brekke) and her brother-in-law (Daniel Giménez Cacho); finally, by a rural brook — Jessica hears the sound again, sometimes multiple times.

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