In Neon’s Memoria Trailer, Tilda Swinton Lives With a Sound She Can’t Explain

In Neon’s Memoria Trailer, Tilda Swinton Lives With a Sound She Can’t Explain
Jessica (Tilda Swinton) tries to find an answer to her condition. (Screenshot: Neon)

“It’s like a rumble from the core of the Earth.” Neon has released the audibly fascinating first trailer for Memoria, director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s English-language debut, about a woman travelling in South America while trying to solve the mystery of her “mysterious sensory syndrome.”

Neon, the distributor behind last year’s Academy Award-winning film Parasite, is back with another highly anticipated film, this time from acclaimed Thai filmmaker Weerasethakul. Memoria stars Tilda Swinton as Jessica Holland, a Scottish woman visiting Colombia who’s trying to find the answer for sounds she keeps hearing in her head without explanation.

Weerasethakul told La Tempestad last year that he wrote the part with Swinton in mind, noting that during the filming process “it was she who showed me this character.” The trailer is vague on details but creates a mood through its clever use of sound and atmosphere. However, there are references to trepanation, a surgical procedure where a hole is drilled into someone’s skull. It’s been used to relieve pressure under the skull, but in ancient times it was also performed on people (often against their will) to “let evil spirits out.”

In a recent interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Weerasethakul said he was inspired to write the film while he was travelling in Colombia and found himself developing the symptoms of Exploding Head Syndrome — a medical condition where people find themselves wakened up by the sound of a loud explosion. From there, Memoria becomes a story (in English and Spanish) about Jessica finding herself as she tries to find answers to her condition. Is it physical, psychological, or perhaps something more supernatural?

“It became a story of this woman who is kind of drifting between places, and we don’t know much about her background, and I really don’t care about that. If you know my films, it’s more about the moment,” he said. “In retrospect, I think the whole film is about healing, and it’s about finding yourself. Or just finding a connection to a place and its people, all of the different layers there — and how you have to go through the process of simulation, and internal transformation. I hope the movie translates as that. Sorry, I cannot really explain. I think even after seeing the movie, you don’t really know what it is about. It’s just feelings.”

Memoria makes it debut at Cannes this week, but no wider release date has been announced yet.