‘Cemetery of Splendor’ is the latest dreamy wonder from Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul (he helpfully shortens his name to ‘Joe’ if you find it a bit of a mouthful). The story, such as it is, concerns a group of soldiers in clinic who’ve all fallen ill during a strange outbreak of sleeping sickness. At the remote clinic where they’re being treated, built on an ancient burial ground, a bond – strictly platonic – develops between a nurse (Jenjira Pongpas Widner) and a patient (Banlop Lomnoi) she rouses into the waking world.
Weerasethakul fans expecting the surreal strangeness of his previous films, ‘Tropical Malady’ and ‘Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall his Past Lives’, might be disappointed (there are no red-eyed jungle monsters here, no men turning into tigers). But while this may not resound with the same cosmic heft, it’s nevertheless the work of a master artist, with trademark flashes of humour (he’s not above a well-timed erection joke). ‘Cemetery of Splendor’ is a gentle whisper of a film that can only cast its spell if you let your breathing slow down and give yourself over it. And don’t stress if you fall asleep – this is a beautiful movie about the things we can’t see with our eyes open.