A surprisingly thoughtful take on serial thrillers and mosaic melodrama, Swiss director Baran bo Odar's feature debut is a quietly desperate meditation on guilt and innocence, orbiting two similar crimes taking place in the exact same spot in rural Germany a quarter century apart. The murder of a local teenager seems to be exactly duplicated 23 years later, throwing into disarray the lives of those most directly affected by it - except, apparently, the man responsible, who may not even be the same culprit of 25 years earlier.

     Unfolding slowly as it shifts between investigators, relatives, murderers, accomplices and passersby, The Silence becomes unobtrusively gripping as you realize this is one thriller that undermines the rules of the police procedural to focus on doubts, emotions, thoughts equally divided between those who were present then and those who are present now. And nobody involved is either innocent or untouched; everyone is damaged or blemished, either because of what they did not do or because of what they did do, regardless of whether then or now, with the bright colours of the Summer fields hiding in plain sight everything that is wrong, a pleasant landscape where nothing is quite it seems. A stellar set of ensemble performances from a tight cast and mr. Bo Odar's elegant (if occasionally overly formalist) handling make The Silence a welcome little surprise.

Cast: Ulrich Thomsen, Wotan Wilke Möhring, Katrin Sass, Sebastian Blomberg, Burghart Klaussner, Karoline Eichhorn, Roeland Wiesnekker, Jule Böwe, Oliver Stokowski, Claudia Michelsen

Director: Baran bo Odar
Screenplay: Mr. Bo Odar, from the novel by Jan Costin Wagner, Silence
Cinematography: Nikolaus Summerer  (colour, widescreen)
Music: Michael Kamm, Kris Steininger
Designers: Yeşim Zolan, Christian M. Goldbeck
Costumes: Katharina Ost
Editor: Robert Rzesacz
Producers: Jantje Friese, Jörg Schulze, Frank Evers, Maren Lüthje, Florian Schneider, Baran bo Odar (Cine Plus and Lüthje Schneider Film in co-production with ZDF das kleine Fernsehspiel)
Germany, 2010, 114 minutes

Screened: DVD, Lisbon, August 4th 2012


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