Rarely does a film come out and display the level of emotions that are found within this film such as grief, sorrow, and misery.
There hasn’t been a movie recently that has beaten me down more emotionally than Baran bo Odar’s new film, The Silence. It’s like a bomb counting down to an explosion that never happens. But it’s not about the explosion, it’s about the tension that builds as the time ticks away.
Nearly every character in the film seems to have extreme emotional issues that are only amplified by the terrible crimes that are committed. At times Bo Odar’s film feels like a sledgehammer of anxiety hitting the viewer. While all of this sounds like a detriment to the film, I’m recommending it for its powerful impact and refusal to play nice.
The film begins in the mid 1980’s with two men watching a film in a small apartment. We don’t know who they are or what film they are watching. We then see them driving in a car in the country side until they see a young girl riding her bike alone. They follow her down a road in the middle of two fields. One of the men gets out and brutally rapes and murders her.
Cut to present day where the majority of the story takes place. We first meet Elena who is the mother of the victim in the past scenes. She’s obviously still very affected by the event. We also meet Sinnika, a young teenage girl who, when we meet her, is getting into an argument with her parents. She rides off on her bike, never to be seen again.
Sinnika goes missing in the same exact spot where the previous crime was committed, thus re-opening old wounds as a new investigation is opened. One of the investigators is Krischan, a detective who is about to retire. Feeling like he has a second chance after failing to solve the original case, Krischan fully throws himself into the investigation.
David, the lead detective on the case and one of the film’s more sympathetic characters, is just getting over losing his wife to cancer. While delving further into the case his depression soon takes over, as we watch his mental state slowly deteriorate throughout the film.
I was surprised at how immediate the film’s dread-filled atmosphere is established. A lot of the credit goes to the film’s sound design, feeling straight out of a David Lynch film. Other credit must also go to cinematographer Nickolaus Summerer whose framing of the film is immaculate.
While the story and the procedural are a great backbone for the film, it’s what bo Odar gets across to the audience that is the real story here. He shows, with great effect, how a crime reaches everyone involved in different ways with the same overall effect. All of the main characters have fragile emotions that are amplified by the central crime.
The closing scenes of The Silence don’t offer much hope for anyone involved. As I mentioned before, I felt pretty demoralized when I finished the film. Films like The Silence take courage to make. Rarely does a film come out and display the level of emotions that are found within this film such as grief, sorrow, and misery. bo Odar’s film spends two hours plummeting you to excruciating depths of its characters’ lives, but when it’s all said and done, you’ll feel richer for having watched a film that leaves everything on the table.