A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The film does not have strong positive or negative messages per se, but more reflections on the nature of memory and reality. That said, there are some examples of perseverance and curiosity.
Positive Role Models
Most characters are not given strong positive or negative characteristics, but serve as people for lead character Jessica to interact with. She is haunted and confused but shows strength and inquisitiveness in trying to find answers.
The lead character, Jessica, is a White woman, though there is racial diversity within the cast, with Colombian actors playing the parts of the main Colombian characters. Jessica does not adhere strongly to female stereotypes and is shown to be independent and determined. Colombian characters represent both traditional and modern Colombia. For example, one is portrayed as a kindly sound engineer and another as an older man who has never left his remote jungle village. There is some reference to more folklore tradition, such as releasing bad spirits and curses, but this is not the overriding representation of the people. Jessica questions her perception of reality, but it is never confirmed whether this is a mental health issue or caused by outside forces.
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Violence & Scariness
Scenes in hospital, but no detail of injury or illness is shown. Virus, decay, bacteria, and wounds mentioned in poetry. A sick dog in need of a blood transfusion is related from a dream. A story involves someone being beaten up and later characters hear the sound of a beating. There is passing mention of animal cruelty. A character reacts to a bus backfiring by diving to the ground as though a shot has been fired. Tombs and curses are mentioned -- skulls and bones are seen, and there is mention of drilling into a head to release bad spirits. Reference is made to volcano tremors and water contamination. Someone displays mild seizure-like movements.
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One instance of strong language includes "bastards."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters drink wine with dinner, but not to the point of intoxication. Mention of Xanax, but it is not taken on-screen.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Memoria is a slow-paced but interesting arthouse movie that explores complex notions such as the nature of reality, memory, and existential loneliness. Starring Tilda Swinton as a British woman staying in Colombia, characters speak both English and Spanish, with English subtitles for Spanish dialogue. There is one use of the word "bastards," but otherwise no strong language, and characters drink wine with dinner, though not to excess. Mention of graves, illness, and death, and skulls and bones shown on-screen could feel gruesome for some. There is also reference to a beating and the sounds of an attack are heard. Moments of silence and stillness stretch on for large expanses of time and there is very little in terms of action -- which is unlikely to hold the attention of tweens and younger. But for the patient and those who don't require obvious answers, this is a beautiful, meditative film that offers something different from the norm. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
His first film shot outside of Thailand and featuring an international star, this captivating film introduces Apichatpong Weerasethakul's meditative, otherworldly filmmaking to a much wider audience. Colombia's Oscar entry for Best International Feature Film, the stillness and silence of Memoria may frustrate some viewers but will enchant others as an exercise in mindfulness before entertainment. The eeriness created as Swinton's Jessica sits at the dinner table choosing to not even react to the sonic boom that nobody else can hear perfectly embodies the spiritual isolation the film explores. The nature of reality itself is a central theme here. Is it shared or individual? How much does it change with every tiny occurrence?
The director conjures a detached feeling that echos Jessica's insomniac state, as she tries to piece together fractures of what's real and what makes sense. An ongoing symphony of car alarms, characters that appear to traverse dimensions, and talk of ancient burial grounds tease other forces at play. But what there is at the heart of the film is an existential disorder perfectly embodied by Swinton's stripped-back, haunting portrayal.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.