Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

2011

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

Critics Consensus

Languorous and deeply enigmatic, Palme d'Or winner Uncle Boonmee represents an original take on the ghosts that haunt us.

89%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 98

60%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 10,327
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Movie Info

Suffering from acute kidney failure, Uncle Boonmee has chosen to spend his final days surrounded by his loved ones in the countryside. Surprisingly, the ghost of his deceased wife appears to care for him, and his long lost son returns home in a non-human form. Contemplating the reasons for his illness, Boonmee treks through the jungle with his family to a mysterious hilltop cave - the birthplace of his first life... -- (C) Strand

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Cast

Thanapat Saisaymar
as Uncle Boonmee
Nattakarn Aphaiwonk
as Huay (Boonmee's Wife)
Geerasak Kulhong
as Boonsong (Boonmee's Son)
Kanokporn Tongaram
as Roong (Jen's Friend in Hotel)
Samud Kugasang
as Jaai (Boonmee's Chief Worker)
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Critic Reviews for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

All Critics (98) | Top Critics (25)

  • Weerasethakul's sincerity is evident, though the film's meditative pace and vague philosophical undertones will not be for everyone.

    Jun 16, 2011 | Rating: 2.5/4
  • This is a film that wants to be interesting, and it certainly is that. Whether you want to dine with the ghost and the monkey-man or not, they bring a new perspective to the table.

    Apr 29, 2011 | Rating: B | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic
  • As is to be expected, Weerasethakul frequently abandons the story for trancelike contemplations of nature, but never before in his work has the device felt more purposeful.

    Apr 29, 2011 | Full Review…
  • While the result is pretty much the definition of a film that should be experienced, not explained, there's no sense here that Weerasethakul is being difficult for difficult's sake, or even attempting to conceal his mysteries.

    Apr 29, 2011

    Justin Chang

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • It playfully invokes both the lifestyle and animistic beliefs of the Northeast country folk, and the primitive magic of early Thai cinema, relating both of these to his musings on reincarnation.

    Apr 29, 2011 | Full Review…
  • If you are open, even in fancy, to the idea of ghosts who visit the living, this film is likely to be a curious but rather bemusing experience.

    Apr 15, 2011 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

  • Dec 20, 2016
    One for undemanding arthouse luvvies who are easily excited by pesudo GCSE philosophy
    Marcus W Super Reviewer
  • Jan 26, 2013
    "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives" is a real mixed bag. It's far too strange and off-putting for modern audiences to appreciate it, but at the same time, it's not even great cinema. In its entire two-hour run time, not much happens. There are some haunting shots (like the black, red-eyed figures slowly moving through the forest) and a handful of bizarre scenarios, but that's about it. The pacing is questionable and at the end you aren't really left deep in thought. It doesn't feel like there's much of a point to these images, which is a problem. Personally, "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives" entranced me from start to finish, but I didn't enjoy it, and I surely wouldn't watch it again.
    Stephen E Super Reviewer
  • Jul 05, 2012
    Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (Thai: ลุงบุญมีระลึกชาติ) - what a name for a movie! This Thai art work directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul won the Palme d'Or at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. And there was a lot there to praise. Most of the story is focused on the last days in the life of its title character. Together with his loved ones - including the ghost of his dead wife and his lost son who has returned in a non-human ("monkey ghost") form - Boonmee is contemplating the reasons for his illness exploring the events from the past lives! Out of this world screenplay which somehow had a lot of sexual tension buried underneath, thanks to the real artistry of the director Apichatpong Weerasethakul. [img]http://s3.amazonaws.com/auteurs_production/post_spotlight_images/2246/w184.jpg[/img] Perfectly chosen cast: Thanapat Saisaymar as Uncle Boonmee, Jenjira Pongpas as Jen and Sakda Kaewbuadee as Thong, just added to this surreal experience with their acting performances. But this movie is just a part of a huge project which many people are not aware of! It is the final instalment in a multi-platform art project called Primitive which deals with the Isan region in Thailand's northeast, and in particular the village of Nabua in Nakhon Phanom, near the border to Laos. Before this movie there is a seven-part video installation and the two short films: A Letter to Uncle Boonmee and Phantoms of Nabua, both of which premiered in 2009. This project actually explores themes of memories, transformation and extinction, and touches on a violent 1965 crackdown on communist sympathisers in Nabua by the Thai army. As a part of the bigger project, the movie itself it's mainly about the transformation and possible extinction of everything old... and even cinema itself (Apichatpong explained this in an interview with Bangkok Post: "When you make a film about recollection and death, you realise that cinema is also facing death. Uncle Boonmee is one of the last pictures shot on film - now everybody shoots digital. It's my own little lamentation"). Because this is a huge project, not many of us will notice that the film consists of six reels - each shot in a different cinematic style: old cinema with stiff acting and classical staging, documentary style, costume drama and director's favourite style where you see "long takes of animals and people driving". Of course, not everyone will love all the styles, and maybe some of the parts of this movie will be just "too much" for some of the viewers - but it is a significant artistic work, and I'll suggest patience when that happens. Gets better! Originally a man named Boonmee approached the abbot of a Buddhist temple in his home town, claiming he could clearly remember his own previous lives while meditating. The abbot was so impressed with Boonmee's ability that he published a book called A Man Who Can Recall His Past Lives in 1983. And the director read the book... by the time he finished it, Boonmee had died, and the original idea to adapt the book into a biographical film about Boonmee was abandoned. More personal film is the result using the book's structure and content as inspiration. Lovely way to be amused, mystified, seduced, moved, saddened on this visually gorgeous journey. P.S. You want more... here it is... http://www.animateprojects.org/films/by_date/2009/a_letter_to
    Panta O Super Reviewer
  • Jun 14, 2012
    Visiting her brother-in-law Boonmee(Thanapat Saisaymar) who is dying from kidney failure, Jen(Jenjira Pongpas) finds his farm to be a lovely place to visit but she has no intent to take it over when he dies, not least because she has issues with his assistant Jaai(Samud Kugasang) because he is from Laos. In any case, she is not the only visitor this weekend as Boonmee's wife Huay(Natthakarn Aphaiwonk) puts in an appearance. She looks great, considering she has been dead for a long time. And then there is his long missing son Boonsong(Geerasak Kulhong) who could definitely use a shave and a haircut. With a definite debt to Tarkovsky in the way it is remote both physically and emotionally, "Uncle Boonmee who Can Recall His Past Lives" is an introspective and evocative movie that is not only concerned with the subject of mortality. It is also interested in the connection between humans and nature, and the consequences when that is broken. For example, Boonmee uses pesticides on his land which could have definitely caused his wife's cancer and maybe even his kidney failure.(It is also implied that his time in the army could have been part of a dirty war.) Just to keep on the safe side, Jen avoids stepping on insects whenever possible. While I am going to file the catfish and the waterfall under now officially having seen everything, I just want somebody to explain the ending, please.
    Walter M Super Reviewer

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