Overlooked Film of the Week-#51
It seems that at the turn of the century, it was the rest of the world that was making worthwhile mysteries and thrillers on film. The rest of the world creates thrillers with a spark of originality, unrelenting intensity, great acting, greater writing and directing, everything you'd want from a great thriller. There is some genuine darkness on display, but they are staunch in their beliefs, they don't water things down, which American thrillers are quite guilty of. Some of my favorite thrillers of the last ten years include "Oldboy," "I Saw The Devil," "Graceland," "Irreversible," and now "The Silence." None of those films were distributed from an American studio and that's wildly exciting.
I'd describe "The Silence" the way I described what I like about mysteries and thrillers these days. "The Silence" has a concept that is not 100% original, but it feels like nothing I have ever seen before. Its filled with great performances that create unforgettable characters. There is a style to the film that is undeniable, pulling you into every single scene. Plus, a thriller definitely gets bonus points for creating an ending I didn't expect, an ending I certainly didn't see coming. "The Silence" has that type of ending, and I loved it very much. I will warn right now, "The Silence" is quite grim, so if you're squeamish about darkness, I'd hold off on this.
The film starts on July 8th, 1986, it takes place in Germany. The first image we see is an underage girl in what looks like some kind of snuff film. Then we cut to two men getting into a red car and they begin to drive. They see a young girl riding her bark down a lonesome bike-path. They follow her. She is raped and murdered by one of the men, while the other sits in the car, disgusted by what is happening. They dispose of the body. Its quite a gripping scene, and it filled my heart with relentless tension.
The film then jumps 23 years into the future, on July 8th. We follow Sinikka Weghamm (Anna Lena Klenke) telling her parents that she is going to tennis practice, when she's really meeting a friend at a carnival. Sinikka doesn't go home that night, she is abducted in the same exact spot that the little girl was murdered in 23 years earlier. The family who lost their daughter 23 years ago listens to saddening reports on the news, police and Sinikka's family go nuts. Then there is Timo (Wotan Wilke Mohring), who becomes very tense. We remember that it was him and his friend Sommers (Ulrich Thomsen) who at the park 23 years ago, it was Sommers who raped and murdered the girl, but did he do this?
"The Silence" is clever in the way it builds suspense and creates a profound mystery. While the film is bleak, its style keeps your eyes glued to the screen, the actors tell a gracious story, and clever writing of the script will keep you guessing until the very end. Based upon my description above, you may or may not have "The Silence" figured out, but I assure you, you don't.
You will recognize Ulrich Thomsen from American cinema, notably "The International," and "The Thing" remake. He creates a disturbing creep that you will root against the entire movie. Its a wickedly talented performance. Who really steals the show is Wotan Wilke Mohring. I am tempted to just print a copy of his filmography and track down as many films as I can. He's that good, he creates that conflicted of a character. He makes "The Silence" so damn addictive. I could write over one thousand words about the rest of the cast, all of whom do outstanding work.
If you like your mysteries slick, hard-boiled and even slightly on the disturbing side, you owe it to yourself to check out "The Silence." It is now available on Netflix.