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Cursed Memory

average rating is 2 out of 5


Sam Quarton


Posted on:

Aug 11, 2022

Film Reviews
Cursed Memory
Directed by:
Ranga Bandaranayake
Written by:
Chamara Kodithuwakku
Deepani Silva, Indika Wickramaarachichi

This short about a woman’s loss of faith in the wake of religious violence poses reasonable spiritual quandaries before becoming mired in Christian homily.



Set in 2019 Sri Lanka, Cursed Memory offers a perplexing look at the aftermath of ISIL’s Easter Day bombing campaign – the barbarous attack that targeted the nation’s minority Catholic population and left over 200 people dead. On the one hand, we have an incisive short concerned with the spiritual impact of religious sectarianism; an illustration of how man’s inhumanity to man can stir up a fierce indictment of the being who created it. On the other, we have a religious homily that throws out the above to make vague excuses for a sadistic demiurge.


The propellent of this confused mix is Melinona, an elderly widower and once-devout Christian – played with sublime stubbornness by Deepani Silva – who’s faith is left reeling from the terror inflicted on her community just a few days earlier. She is first seen engaged in a knowing act of sacrilege, removing her idol from its’ usual spot in the garden and chuntering anti-Christ invective: “no father lets their child be humiliated.”


But there is more to this spiritual grievance than just bombs; the almighty’s lack of personal utility to Melinona is a source of her anger too, citing unanswered prayers and familial hardships as evidence that God is truly dead. It’s this Nietzschean zeal which arouses the concerns of her two adult children who are convinced – in an entirely patronising display – their mother is finally “cracking up.”


Screenwriter Chamara Kodithuwakku treats this spiritual conflict haphazardly, in which urgent questions about the nature of human suffering – and God’s proximity to it – are asked and then shaken off as symptoms of a pernicious mental illness or nihilistic malaise. And bizarrely, Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam – shown hanging on Melinona’s wall – is used as some banal vindication of “men were created in the image of God” as self-recrimination: an excuse for an omnipotent being’s unrestrained cruelty against his children.


It’s a strange, vaguely medieval take which doesn’t address Melinona’s legitimate spiritual quandaries. But then again, explaining away the unexplainable with pithy quotes and striking imagery is more fun, I suppose.

About the Film Critic
Sam Quarton
Sam Quarton
Short Film, World Cinema
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