The Silence is a dark and disturbing tale which deals with the disappearances of 2 young girls in the same small German town - 23 years apart.
The movie isn't a whodunit, the culprits of the original crime are revealed to the audience in the opening scene, but instead it focus on the affects a crime like this has on those left behind. We see the despair of Pia's mother, who has kept her daughter's bedroom the way she left it back in 1986, the frustration of the lead detective on the original case who was unable to solve the crime, and the anguish and torment of Sinikka's parents, who can do nothing but wait for news of their missing child.
This may be one of the one most atmospheric films I've ever seen, the camerawork is sublime and the character's feelings and emotions practically seep out of the screen.
The Silence isn't easy viewing, it's a tough watch right from the get go, but it is a wonderfully shot film and it's definitely worth a watch.
The Silence takes a lot of time to get going. That is the first thing to say, because you could quite easily give up on it in the first 15 minutes. It is a little bit like 'Prime Suspect' in that the effect of crime is more significant than the whodunnit or the motivation behind it. Why are the first 15 minutes such hard going? Well, it takes a brave film to start with two men driving around looking for a young girl to rape. It is brave because it challenges the viewer to want to know why they did it and how or if they are going to be punished. When the same chain of events repeats itself 23 years later the film is set up as an apparently simple whodunnit. Clearly the two murders are connected, but it isn't clear how.
What transpires is a modern morality play that deals with the effects of these two crimes on the police, the victims' families, the perpetrators and their families. Even if justice isn't effectively done in the eyes of the law, can it be visited upon people in another way? This is the question the film asks and there are no easy answers.
The camerawork is superb, the direction never misses a beat as it draws you in and the performances are uniformly good and unsettling. You may not rewatch this film very often, but it is well worth tracking it down and if you do it will draw you in. The only slight moan would be the subtitles, which are occasionally hard to read but even that doesn't detract from a gripping but deeply unsettling film.
This is one of the best films I have seen in a long time. Having said that, it undoubtedly a tough sell. First off it is in German with subtitles.
The story concerns a young girl who is raped and murdered, a copy cat crime takes place twenty three years later. But we are shown the initial crime, so it is a film about why, rather than who or how. The film is almost two hours long, and although it is a little confusing to start with, by the half way mark it is remarkably compelling, juggling a variety of different plot strands. I missed the end of the film on tv, and felt compelled enough to buy it to catch the conclusion.
There is a little violence and some male nudity, but nothing terribly extreme for adult viewers. Having said that, this is clearly a film that many viewers find unsettling, the subject matter is certainly dark, and some reviewers absolutely hate it. Perhaps this is because the film fails to conform to the usual moral trajectory of such stories. The police are inept and self absorbed. Their behaviour is unethical and ultimately ineffective, much of their evidence would be inadmissible. The villains are portrayed with some sympathy and understanding. Everyone is believably human, neither impossibly good, nor impossibly bad. With hindsight there is an inevitability to the story.
If you can get past the darkness of the plot, the film is attractive to look at, well shot, the cast are first rate, there is a near constant late summer honeyed glow to shots, the film regularly cuts to corn fields swaying in the summer breeze. There is a strong sense of place, a seemingly idyllic German suburb.
The strength of the film is that it gets the viewer to do the work, it presents us with a wide variety of characters, and draws us into their lives.
This is a horrible, horrible film. So why have I given it 4stars? Well, that's because this should be a horrible film, the subject matter is truly disturbing. This is not an easy watch. It is extremely creepy and unsettling. However it has been well written, acted and directed.
It is certainly not a film you could watch over and over. It is quite slow and you sort of know what the plot is going to be straight from the start. However you are drawn into the film and you do want to stick with it to the end to see how it goes.
One thing I would say is that there seemed to be a lot of characters in the police that you didn't really get enough information on them, there is a pregnant woman who seems to have a story there somewhere but it is never told. I suppose this would have taken away from the main story but it might have been better just having one or two police at the most so that you could focus more on them, e.g. the older retired policeman struggling with the case he could never solve and then the newer policemen wanting to solve both cases and not repeat the mistakes of the past. I also had some difficulty, especially at the start in telling the difference between some of the characters and this made the plot slightly confusing!
Overall, it is worth a watch, it is slow but also powerful and dark, good acting and well directed. It would probably have been better as a tv series rather than a stand alone film. This would have given more time to build up the plot and get to know the policemen and their back stories. The end is a bit frustrating and you might find yourself shouting at the tv in anger as the credits roll. However, I suppose the ending does sit with the whole unpleasantness of the film, as I said before this is a horrible, horrible film so don't expect a happy ending, or even one that resolves the plot.
on 26 September 2013
We open onto a nondescript German apartment block - it's not Bauhaus, but it is a near thing. The shot tightens, drawing us into the repressing geometry and then closer still, into a plain door with a tiny peephole. We cut to a spinning, caged fan, and then a slowly rotating projector wheel.
Inside a dark room, two men are viewing movies of an unsavoury kind.
In a startling aerial shot, the mundane is rendered extraordinary: a square early '80s model Audi reverses out of a tight row of parallel garages. Again, constrained by the geometry of the everyday: the car, the pavings, the garages.
All of this is casually symbolic of the immutable boundaries of lives, our ordinary constraints and the blinkered paths on which we must run. There is even a hamster in a cage. It doesn't run on the wheel: it tries forlornly to escape, biting frantically at the wire. What is more, these establishing shots call to mind the familiar, shared dilemma: the private urge to overcome this linearity: the inevitability of all things. You might as well run, hamster: there's no better alternative.
This is a film about individuals battling their private urges; trying vainly to escape the irrepressible geometry of their lives. It is a film about the stultifying human architecture which forbids it.
Of course, there are good and bad ways of self-overcoming. We realise we are observing two individuals who do unspeakable things. Their bond is not close. From above we watch them go about their business, in their square car, proceeding dully along a ramrod straight blacktop, populated either side by a verdant forest. They turn off the straight path to a deserted lane by a cornfield, in pursuit of a young girl on a bicycle.
The most uncomfortable scene, in a film full of them, comes in this opening sequence where we see the girl's ghastly fate. One of the men is Timo, a mathematics student. He sits mutely in the car, only a witness to the murder. Quickly, he quits the town, horrified by what he has seen and his passive complicity in it. The perpetrator, Peer Sommer, pleads with him to stay, but even here the regular mechanisms of life - in this case a departing bus - contrive to frustrate him. Timo forges a new life. The men fall out of contact.
At the scene, all that remains is the girl's discarded bicycle, some Walkman headphones and her bag. We learn her decomposed body is recovered some weeks later at the same lake.
We roll forward twenty three years. Timo has found a more constructive way of grappling with geometric and structural constraints that life presents: he is an architect. He has changed his name, married and has children.
Then, back in the original town, history repeats itself. A young girl goes missing, her cycle and bag are recovered at the identical spot. (There is much made of this possibly being a coincidence: surely, whatever it could be, it couldn't be that). Timo's simmering guilt, and his long-suppressed urges, pull him back into Peer's world. Also drawn in are the police investigators, the disappeared girl's parents, and also their correspondents from the original case: the murdered girl's mother Elena, and the now retired detective on the original case, Krischan, who was unable to solve the murder.
The remainder of the film, with the odd flashback, charts the unravelling of this case, though to characterise this as a police procedural (or a thriller) would be to understate the engaging psychological and metaphorical study that Baran Bo Odar, in an assured debut, brings to the screen.
We track Elena as she jogs through the woods, on her own treadmill: a daily routine of visiting her daughter's grave. She keeps her daughter's bedroom as it was on the day of her disappearance: she too has had trouble overcoming. Her opportunity to break with the past comes in the unlikely form of Krischan, newly interested in the case following the disappearance, and in this way also striving to overcome. There is a more primal draw between the two: In a scene strikingly resemblent of Dracula, Krischan raps on Elena Lange's shutters and scratches at her window, as if he were a vampire unable to pass without an invitation. Elena lets him in.
This latter exchange leads one of the few difficulties of the picture: characters occasionally act in incomprehensible ways, as if they are motivated by the requirements of Odar's metaphorical scheme, and not their natural narrative arcs. Krischan and Elena's interaction seems neither plausible nor really necessary: there is rather more relationship breakdown and inter-marital confusion than is strictly necessary to make the point.
Indeed, the cast of characters between them have as many afflictions as you could ask for: aside from the paedophiles there is a grieving, borderline unhinged police investigator, his pregnant police partner (who is left to enter the wolf's lair single-handedly, Agent Starling style), disfunctional but underdeveloped parents of the missing girl, and a bureaucratic, small-minded police chief who resents both the visionary weirdo chops of his star investigator and his offhanded treatment by Krischan, his predecessor.
The Silence's thriller is tightly strung and astutely paced. Odar never allows the melodrama to dominate, and we are left with a stylish, sombre and rich film, which absolutely refuses to compromise its ending for the sake of neat resolution.
As the curtain falls, the picture is book-ended by the same oppressively symmetrical shot on which it opened, and it is clear that, in this story, there have been no winners or losers - the only winner is the inevitable machinery of modern life.
And the viewer of this thoughtful film.
on 9 January 2016
It's the film of the book, but there are fundamental differences, and not in a good way. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, which had a surprising and original denouement, and that was the main reason for buying the film. What a disappointment - for some unfathomable reason, the ending is completely different, nowhere near as satisfactory, and unremarkable in every way. Had I not read the book, the film would have been ok - hence 2 stars - but if you haven't read the book, do so after watching the film. If you have read the book, don't buy the film!
on 22 February 2012
I was really disappointed with this film.
I paid way more than i normally would for a DVD copy - purely on the strength of the 5* reviews
and a couple of friends.
HOWEVER I was really disappointed.
I hate giving 3 stars - as it looks such a sit on the fence option.
However this why.
For me 5*s is film of the year, best of genre or simply so well done that you can see yourself watching againb and again (like Big)
4*s for a well acted, original plot, and the more twists the better,
Good example being "the Secret in their Eyes".
3 for me means not at all bad. decent acting decent story - but nothing you havent seen before.
2 means one of story, acting, script or direction just plain rubbish - and for me 1 star is when one is truly staggered that a film has manbaged to ever get green-lighted or has been completely screwed up in production. Anyway im on 3 for this.
12 year old mudered and raped in a corn field on her way home in 1986.
Bike and walkman left at crime scene - girl chucked in boot and we then see the "rapist" getting nervous as his "passenger" on that occasion is seen leaving town in the back of a bus which he chases after. there is remorse. you assume the girl is dead. the rapist repeatedly infers hurting her was an accident...yeah, right.
23 years on we establish the girls body in 1986 was found after a few weeks in a lake, and that an outgoing police investigator still wonders who did what and how. the day of his retirment party a 2nd 12 year old goes missing. Bike found at the exact same scene. What is going on...???
a very uncomfortable looking middle aged man with wife and 2 daughters becomes the films focus and we wonder if he could be the chap last seen leaving town on the bus? The rapist is still janitor at the same institution as he was 23 years ago. We are never in doubt as to who mu=rdered the first little girl. And all we are asked to work out is the link...
A young German cop appears to be getting closest to linking both and is the only one who believe that when the apparent double murderer seems to have killed himself he alone is adamant that the real killer is out there somewhere and we cant just put the case to bed....
Interesting - very good acting - but like a lot of german movies the shere violent nature of the language - especiually when voices are raised irriattes me for one and seems to lose any sense of subtlety or meaningful and expressive acting.
Another reviwer says how good the mum of victim number 2 is - and i would second that - as is mum of victim number one. the whole thing though seems to me (a) a bit pointless and (b) just a little too nasty.
There are 100 better foreign films and thrillers at that out there than this.
Sorry pack animals.