(Memoria • 2021 ‧ Drama/Narrative ‧ 2h 16m • Showtimes London • Mon 31 Jan • Tue 1 Feb • Wed 2 Feb • Thu 3 Feb •
Picturehouse Central, 600 m·Piccadilly Circus, 13 Coventry Street, LONDON W1D 7DH, United Kingdom • 12:15
Vue Cinemas, 3,4 km·Islingto, 36 Parkfield Street, LONDON N1 0PS, United Kingdom • 16:50
Genesis Cinema, 5,6 km·Whitechapel, 93-95 Mile End Road, LONDON E1 4UJ, United Kingdom • 18:15
Vue, 5,9 km·West Hampstead, 02 Centre - Finchley Road, LONDON NW3 6LU, United Kingdom • 14:30
The Castle Cinema, 7,7 km·First floor, 64-66 Brooksby's Walk, LONDON E9 6DA, United Kingdom • 15:30 • 21:00
ODEON Wimbledon, 11,1 km·The Broadway, The Piazza, WIMBLEDON SW19 1QB, United Kingdom • 17:40)
"Memoria" is a bewildering drama about a Scottish woman, who, after hearing a loud bang at daybreak, begins experiencing a mysterious sensory syndrome while traversing the jungles of Colombia.
Spanning an atemporal, apolitical space of the narrative, "Memoria" centres on Jessica Holland (Tilda Swinton), a Scottish botanist, visiting her sister Karen (Agnes Brekke) in Colombia. In Bogota and 300 km away in Pijao the morning bang disappears. With it the precious, murky, drifting realm is gone. For better or for worse. Hundreds of tiny lights flicker across the vast darkness. Some of the glimmers belong to the invisible ships and boats sailing in silence. Above them the sky is full of illuminations. The stars and the man-made lights look identical so the horizon seems to vanish. Closer up, beyond the curved window, is a blinking light on the airplane’s wing. This sight must be similar to that from a spaceship on a long voyage; time unknown. One livid morning at daybreak, Jessica is torn from sleep by a loud bang resembling the reverberating sound of a large stone ball falling on metal. The immense noise reverberates around the brain, but instead of waking you up fully, it puts you in a semi-conscious state, listening, anticipating. It's a scenario in which Jessica Holland, a comatose character from Jacques Tourneur’s 'I Walked With A Zombie', wakes up. She finds herself in Bogota, being drawn by a dream or a trauma that she doesn’t remember. She walks, sits and listens. In her brief 'South American' journey she bears the melancholy of a stranger. Clandestine sounds at a distance echo through the land.
Still shrouded in the mist of the film from 1943, she hears the rumbles of the voodoo drums. They encourage her to walk and become part of a ritual. For a second, she wonders if she's still in that film, lying in bed, opening her eyes from a dream. Then, as on the previous night, the echo leads her towards the dark ocean. Plagued by sleepless nights, she decides to get to the bottom of the noise's origin. This haunting sound dispels her sleep for days, calling her identity into question and guiding her from recording studios to secluded villages. Thus begins a personal journey that’s also historical excavation, in a film of profound serenity that, like Jessica’s sound, lodges itself in the viewer’s brain as it traverses city and country, climaxing in an extraordinary extended encounter with a rural farmer that exists on a precipice between life and death. As we peer into Jessica’s head, we see the mountains with their creases and creeks mimicking the folds of the brain or the curves of sound waves. Her footsteps cause the inner terrain to inflate and tremble, generating landslides and earthquakes. The noise, which only Jessica seems to hear, carries a foreboding beauty that's part of the surrounding landscape; be it the busy streets of Bogotá or the verdant mountains around the excavation site where Jessica travels to meet up with her sister, an archaeologist researching human remains that bear the signs of ritual deaths.
In her journey to understand this uncanny sound, she seeks the help of Hernán (Juan Pablo Urrego), a sound engineer who does his best to recreate the noise for her. Jessica also shares memories with Hernán, who speaks of the past, the future, and the memories of the dead. From there, Jessica’s mission begins to unravel into a bizarre and fantastical voyage into the depths of the human psyche. The skull with a hole is to be filled or to be emptied out. We don’t know. This sign of humanity exists deep in the mountains, which in themselves are holding layers of memories. Jessica walks a lot, which is an elegant gesture, to trace and collect these layers. Then she sits down by the stream and listens. Time decelerated. Would this feel like tapping into other people’s memories, or making a film in a foreign country? Possess an equilibrium state when the self is removed; when nothingness could mean freedom. Maybe this is the answer to everything, including Jessica’s migration. The film explores one woman’s confounding sensory syndrome, while slowly revealing itself to be an unforgettable cinematic experience.
As a kid we were drawn to jungles, animals, and mountains. We grew up reading novels about hunters looking for treasures from lost civilisations. The film forms the basis of a character whose audio experience synchronises with the country’s memory. The massive sierras, with their creases and creeks, are like the folds of the brain, or the curves of sound waves. With the scores of acts of violence and trauma, the terrain inflates and trembles, to become a country with never- ending landslides and earthquakes. The film itself is also seeking for a balance in this active topography. It's skeletons, the images and sounds, are shaken out of place. "Memoria" takes us into the Colombian jungle on the introspective journey. The film weaves a narrative style into a carefully designed land and soundscape that captures the elusive genius of the locus with precise, perfect simplicity. It's a lyrical and meditatively decelerating film experience.
"Memoria" explores the sublime space between reality, myth, history, and memory in this mesmerizing, sensory meditation on isolation and alienation in the modern world. Collective and personal ghosts hover over every frame of "Memoria". In this characteristically dreamy film, urban landscapes collide with verdant and dense countryside, creating a world that might look familiar, but feels anything but. It's feels now like a subterranean world. The images are dim, as if they're in a stage of decay. Logic is not clearly understood. Time decelerated. To be free, you need to extract yourself from everything, even your own experiences.