Film Review: ‘The Silence’

Sebastian Blomberg stars in the German murder drama "The Silence." Credit: Music Box Films
Sebastian Blomberg stars in the German murder drama “The Silence.”
Credit: Music Box Films

‘The Silence’
Director: Baran bo Odar
Stars: Ulrich Thomsen, Wotan Milke Mohring
Rating: NR
3 (out of 5) Globes

Today the boundaries that separate film and TV aren’t so clear. Aesthetically, TV looks increasingly like film, while film is no longer content with single, brief narratives; now everything wreaks sequels and prequels and over-explanatory origin stories. One can’t even tell “The Hobbit” — a nice little 320 page book — without three three-hour epics. And so the German murder drama “The Silence” plays like a TV show, an ambitious study of guilt and remorse in the wake of tragedy, but directed with the zeal of someone trying to score a comfy Hollywood gig.

A young girl out for a bike ride is hounded by two creepy men with shaggy hair (Ulrich Thomsen and Wotan Milke Mohring). She’s raped, murdered and disposed of, her body never found. Twenty three years later a copycat murder takes place: another girl on a bike disappears from the same field. Is someone trying to send a message? If so, who? In the spirit of “Twin Peaks,” “The Silence” dangles the carrot of a mystery that will be belatedly solved, hoping a tantalizing end point will get viewers to power through less sexy character-driven fare.

“Twin Peaks,” of course, boasted a hotbed of crazies who handily distracted viewers from the protracted mystery. “The Silence,” meanwhile, is populated by sadsacks brooding about as much as, well, the people in Ingmar Bergman’s 1963 film “The Silence.” The more recent incident not only yields a hot pursuit, but also awakens feelings, including in the original victim’s mother (Katrin Sass) and the detective (Burghart Klaussner) who failed to crack the case. The original murderers even get in on the action: Mohring, now a respectable father and family man who moved far off, returns to mostly torture himself over his past deed. Thomsen, meanwhile, asserts that, hey, they only murdered once.

Even in quiet scenes, director Baran bo Odar ratchets up the tension: he shoots mundane acts (kids playing, etc.) in sinister slo-mo while cranking up the moody, haunting music, highlighting the menace lurking underneath the innocent surface. His favorite shot is an overhead one that peers down, disengaged from the action. It’s a lot of lathering up to atone for a plot that too often feels stuck in a talky rut, spinning its wheels before the final gotcha. When the solution comes it actually hits hard, not because it’s shocking but because it goes to a legitimately dark and underexplored place. It takes awhile to get there — but then, at least it’s not a TV show.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

NY judge throws out lawsuit by Empire State…

A New York state judge has thrown out a lawsuit in which longtime investors in the Empire State Building claimed they were shortchanged out of hundreds of millions of dollars…

Local

Mysterious white flags appear over Brooklyn Bridge

Two white flags mysteriously appeared over the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday in place of the American flags that are a traditional fixture.

National

Judge sets January start for murder trial of…

By Elizabeth BarberBOSTON (Reuters) - Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez will be tried in January for the murder of semi-professional football player Odin…

National

Donut capers stymie police in Oregon

For more than a month, mysterious vandals have been smearing pastries on cars, depositing donuts in lawns and leaving cakes strewn about the streets.

Arts

Don't miss 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' at the…

Have you been meaning to see "Charles James: Beyond Fashion"? There are only two weeks left to get to the Met and catch this amazing American fashion designer's collection.

Television

Zac Posen talks 'Project Runway' and what it…

We talked to Zac Posen, judge and designer extraordinaire, about the new season of "Project Runway" and what keeps him coming back after three seasons.

Television

'Face Off' contestant David 'DOC' O'Connell sounds off…

David "DOC" O'Connell tells us about getting cast on Season 7 of Syfy's "Face Off," premiering tonight at 9.

Arts

PHOTO: Wildlife photographer Marc Mol captures amazing aerial…

This aerial image was taken by photographer Marc Mol who spotted the animals during an air safari in Zambia.

NFL

David Tyree hiring has gay rights advocates angry

Former Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree will re-join the franchise as its new director of player development.

NFL

Ben McAdoo's new offense has Giants excited to…

Even Tom Coughlin feels he has a lot to learn about offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s new offense, which makes the veteran coach very excited.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead…

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead pack

NFL

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will…

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will win Super Bowl?

Tech

Learn Braille with these gloves

U.S. scientists have designed high-tech gloves to help users understand Braille in a matter of minutes.

Home

5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.

Food

Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…

Style

Go retro with your sneakers

The best of wacky new sneakers.