SYNDROMES AND A CENTURY
(Sang sattawat)

        SYNDROMES AND
A CENTURY
is the latest feature
from Thai filmmaker Apichatpong
Weerasethakul. It is a meditation
on memory, how one recalls the
events of the past, and how a
memory can be triggered by
something seemingly
inconsequential or even mundane.

        Weerasethakul has stated that the film is loosely inspired by his parents' lives
before they met. Both his mother and father were doctors and he and his siblings were
raised in a hospital environment. Like much of the director's other work, this film is
bifurcated, with the first part concentrating on the female and the second on the male.
There are recurrent themes and images, and the director's own beliefs in reincarnation
come into play.

        Part One centers more on the female Dr. Toey (Nantarat Sawaddikul) who
works in a rural clinic. The bucolic setting is the backdrop for the events that unfold,
including an interview with a new staff member, Dr. Nohng (Jaruchai Iamaram),
Buddhist monks undergoing check-ups, a singing dentist and a monk who wanted to
be a deejay, and a proposal of a marriage which leads to a flashback involving Dr. Toey
and an orchid grower (Sophon Pukanok).

        Part Two takes some of the same characters but the setting is a modern city
hospital, all antiseptic and sterile. Again Dr. Toey interviews Dr. Nohng but in this
case the camera follows him as he navigates the hospital, as he conducts a check-up
on Buddhist monk, meets up with a young patient and has an assignation with his
girlfriend who presses him to transfer to another city.

        All in all, not much happens plotwise, but if you allow the film to wash over you, it
can be appreciated as an essay on the power of memory.

                                Rating:                B
                                Running time:     105 mins.


© 2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.
Nantarat Sawaddikul in Syndromes and a
Century

© 2006 Kick the Machine/Tifa/Anna
Sanders Films/New Crowned Hope Festival