While his next full length still seems to be a bit of a way off, director Apichatpong Weerasethakul — best known for “Uncle Boonme Who Can Recall Past Lives,” “Syndromes and a Century” and “Tropical Malady” — continues to work at a feverish pace, delivering numerous shorts since his Palme d’Or win a couple of years back. In fact, he was back at Cannes earlier this year with “Mekong Hotel,” which is still doing the festival rounds and now fans of the filmmaker have another work to take in.
The director has unveiled “Cactus River,” another work which finds him blending the personal with his own expressive brand of filmmaking. Here’s the synopsis — watch below:
In describing Cactus River, Weerasethkul tells the story of how actress Jenjira Pongpas changed her name to Nach, which means water. She has acted in his films since 2009, including Syndromes and a Century and Uncle Boonmee, both of which screened at the Walker in 2011. Convinced that her new name will bring good luck, Nach soon meets and marries Frank, a retired soldier from the small US town of Cuba, New Mexico. Cactus River opens with a scene of Nach and her husband in their new home on the Mekong River as they go about their daily life. She is cooking or knitting baby socks for sale while he gardens and watches a Thai television program with the sound turned off. We see the wind off the nearby river and the flowing of two waters, Nach and Mekong.
Cactus River is Weerasethakul’s diary of his visit with the couple. He explains, “The flow of the two rivers — Nach and the Mekong — activates my memories of the place where I shot several films. Over many years, this woman whose name was once Jenjira has introduced me to this river, her life, its history, and to her belief about its imminent future. She is certain that soon there will be no water in the river due to the upstream constructions of dams in China and Laos. I noticed, too, that Jenjira was no more.”” [Mubi]