Sight & Sound
Considering the challenges it poses, Syndromes and a Century is an exceptionally easy and pleasurable watch. Apichatpong Weerasethakul's earlier features Blissfully Yours (2002) and Tropical Malady (2004) weren't exactly hard slogs either, but both had more or less linear narratives. Although it's scripted and acted, Syndromes has no narrative as such: it offers a series of vignettes, some of them seen twice in substantially different versions, with no obvious causal logic or storytelling flow. It's not even a Borges-like 'Garden of Forking Paths', since the repetitions and variations don't affect lives or outcomes. At first sight, the assemblage of episodes and incidents seems random, although the tone darkens decisively in the closing stages. The cumulative effect, however, is liberating, and not just because so many of the images and actors are so beautiful.