Rak ti Khon Kaen [Cemetery of Splendor] (2015)

Rak ti Khon Kaen
Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Writer: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Cast: Jenjira Pongpas, Banlop Lomnoi, Jarinpattra Rueangram, Petcharat Chaiburi, Tawatchai Buawat, Sujittraporn Wongsrikeaw, Bhattaratorn Senkraigul, Sakda Kaewbuadee
Seen on: 22.1.2016

Jenjira (Jenjira Pongpas) starts to volunteer at a local temporary clinic. There all patients are soldiers that are struck with a sleeping illness and are never awake. Jenjira watches over Itt (Banlop Lomnoi) who doesn’t get any other visitors otherwise. Medium Keng (Jarinpattra Rueangram) tries to help connect the sleeping soldiers with the outside world and also tries to connect Jenjira with Itt. As Jenjira starts to delve deeper into the situation, she seems to cross the line between fantasy and reality more often.

Cemetery of Splendor was an incredibly boring film. While I did like the concept and there was some great imagery, I lost interest in the film about 10 minutes in and after that, things just drag and drag and drag.


I’m probably lacking the cultural knowledge to pick up on a lot of the meaning that comes with Cemetery of Splendor. But to me, a lot of the film simply was a little thin. There is a fantasy story buried in it, but it felt disjointed and never really came together for me. I admit that I drifted off a lot during the film, so that may very well be the reason that I just kept missing the connecting bits. Honestly though, when I go into the film, I’m motivated to pay attention and I usually don’t have any problems focusing, so when I lose interest into a film so completely and after such a short time, I’m putting the blame at the film’s feet, so to speak.

That’s not to say that there wasn’t anything intriguing about it. Above all I really enjoyed the images Weerasethakul conjures. From the light therapy that is used on the sleeping soldiers to the dinosaur-ringed picnic-place to the ruins Jenjira visits, they are all beautifully captured and do make an atmosphere that seems slightly out of this world.

cemeteryofsplendour1Unfortunately though it just wasn’t enough to make the film work for me. All the atmosphere and images just dissipated in the face of the immense boredom that the film elicited. There was nothing that kept me interested long enough so that the film could build some kind of tension.

So I spent the film waiting for something to happen or for things to garner a bit of momentum, making me the audience equivalent of a child in the backseat, continuously asking “are we there yet?” Ultimately a frustrating experience for everyone.

cemeteryofsplendour2Summarizing: No.

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