It’s impossible to glean anything from how certain movies are received at the Cannes Film Festival because the audience for every movie at Cannes is comprised of A) French people, B) Famous people who aren’t allowed to publicly dislike movies, C) Critics who like movies you hate and hate movies you like, D) Drunk people, and E) Rich people on vacation. None of these people represent the true American moviegoer, so who knows if “Uncle Boonmee,” the little Thai movie that won this year’s Palme d’Or, will be a movie you like. Let’s go to the Hollywood Reporter review to see what director Apichatpong Weerasethakul's movie is all about:
One evening, while the family is relaxing on their terrace, the apparition of Boonmee's dead wife Huay (Nattakarn Aphaiwonk) appears, followed by long-lost son Boonsong. Boonsong, who looks like a Yeti with red laser beam eyes, recounts how his interest in photography led him deep into the jungle in search of Monkey Ghosts, until he himself is transformed into one.
Did you say monkey ghosts? Brother, I’ll see any movie that’s got monkey ghosts. Regular ghosts are scary. But MONKEY ghosts? That’s a whole new level of terror, right there. That’s bananas.
The matter-of-fact way in which the humans interact with dead or otherworldly beings make for some deadpan humor: upon seeing Thuy in halogenic form and Boonsong in a rubbery gorilla suit, Tong remarks, "I feel like the strange one here."
So we get monkey ghosts and a man in a gorilla suit. But wait! There’s more!
This makes the (movie’s) structure free-floating and esoteric, incorporating myth (underwater sex between a facially-tainted princess and a catfish), politics (photographs of soldiers hinting at military-related human disappearances) and parallel worlds (Tong and Jen in different places at the same time).
I swear this review just said there was catfish sex. SEX WITH CATFISH. Good gravy, it’s like someone stuck a camera backstage at a Led Zeppelin concert.
Let’s be frank with each other. You aren’t going to see this movie. Maybe you’ll see the remake starring Ashton Kutcher that has NO monkey ghosts or catfish sex, but that won’t be the same movie and we know it. Chances are, it may not even be released here, and certainly not outside of New York and LA. And that’s a shame. The list of Palme d’Or winners throughout history has some pretty nifty movies on it, like “MASH,” “Pulp Fiction” and “The Pianist.” But those movies are in English. The Palme d’Or winners that aren’t in English are usually ignored stateside, which means we miss widely acclaimed movies like “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days.” Yeah, there are some duds on that list, like “Elephant.” But “Elephant” doesn’t have sex with catfish, and this year’s winner does.
So cross your fingers and hope “Uncle Boonmee” gets a release somewhere near you. Because if it doesn’t, the monkey ghosts will haunt you FOREVER.