I don’t think they’re watching Looney Tunes.

Theatrical Release Date: 08/19/2010 (Germany), 3/08/2013 (USA)
Director: Baran bo Odar
Cast: Ulrich Thomsen, Wotan Wilke Möhring, Katrin Sass, Sebastian Blomberg, Burghart Klaußner, Jule Böwe , Claudia Michelsen, Anna-Lena Klenke, Helene Doppler
Rated: Not Rated by MPAA
Runtime: 1 hour, 51 minutes


I can see my car from here.

Based on the novel by Jan Costin Wagner, director/screenwriter Baran bo Odar’s take on The Silence is a distinctively visual and mood-driven effort. Buoyed by excellent cinematography highlighting numerous sweeping overhead shots and a beautiful rural German landscape, the film is an exploration of grief and pedophiliac psychology.

The film begins in 1986, with the unsolved rape and murder of a young girl. 23 years later, another girl goes missing and police struggle to find the culprit(s). The story is multi-faceted, examining the impact these heinous acts have not only on the families, but the small community where the events take place, the police, and those responsible or involved in the crimes.

One thing I can say is that this the type of movie you start if you’re near your bedtime. I tried watching this late one night/early one morning and the methodical pacing and long, drawn-out takes which first time director bo Odar uses to let the camera linger on people as they cope with the somber proceedings make this a film harder to stay connected to if you’re at all tired. Going back with a more refreshed state of consciousness, there’s a lot of subtlety and introspection to be appreciated.

The performances from top to bottom are excellent. A long time fan of Ulrich Thomsen’s work (especially in Susanne Bier’s Brothers), it was chilling to see him play such a vile character and he does it to great effectiveness. Sebastian Blomberg is a cop struggling to keep it together and fighting within the investigation itself to find the absolute truth to the crimes, not just accept what conclusions seem to be the quickest with which to close the case. The young girls playing the victims (Anna-Lena Klenke and Helene Doppler) are heartbreakingly relatable and it heightens the impact felt as a result of the offenses committed against them. And Wotan Wilke Möhring’s performance is remarkably complex and his actions, or lack thereof, are sure to be a key talking point amongst audiences looking to rationalize how the film’s characters deal with the aftermath of such intimate brutality.

The film does lag a bit in the middle and mainstream audiences will likely find the deliberate pace on the slow side (not to mention test the disdain American audiences unfortunately show towards subtitled films). This is more for fans of distinctly European dramas/crime procedurals and perhaps the most apropos American comparison would be the AMC series The Killing (which in itself is an adaptation of a Danish TV series). I’m also sure the book is able to really flesh out the multitude of narratives happening across the scope of the many characters affected by these crimes.

However, for people who enjoy stories told in this manner, The Silence delivers. The beautiful and almost haunting imagery makes it worth a trip to the big screen if you are so inclined so considering its limited US release, that means anyone interested should find a theater near them sooner than later. Otherwise, find this in the home market and just make sure not to start watching it too late in the evening. Not all films are full of car chases and explosions, and that’s not a bad thing.

3.5 out of 5