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Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 2015

New Wave

In a makeshift hospital in rural Thailand a group of soldiers are sleeping round the clock. Jen (Jenjira Pongpas), a middle-aged ward volunteer, forms a relationship with one of them during his brief waking moments.

She learns with equanimity that the mysterious sleeping sickness is the fault of ancient kings buried nearby who have commandeered the soldiers’ energy.

Under a different director, Cemetery of Splendour might be an exotic fantasy. But Apichatpong Weerasethakul, who won the 2010 Palme d’Or for Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, builds worlds where dreams and magic slide in unnoticed.

Cicadas chirrup and fans whirr softly. Jen is quietly accepting of her strange new reality.

Weerasethakul’s unemotional composition frames her loneliness, and gives the film’s tender moments an almost shocking intimacy.

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