Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins Ranked From Best To Worst: Every Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner Ranked From Best To Worst: Every Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck Check Out These Minimalist, Old School Paperback-Style Posters For The Films Of Wes Anderson Check Out These Minimalist, Old School Paperback-Style Posters For The Films Of Wes Anderson First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' The 30 Most Anticipated Movies Of The 2015 Sundance Film Festival The 30 Most Anticipated Movies Of The 2015 Sundance Film Festival The 10 Best Films Of 2001 The 10 Best Films Of 2001 2015 Oscar Nominees Get The Honest Poster Treatment 2015 Oscar Nominees Get The Honest Poster Treatment Watch: Full 90-Minute Documentary 'Great Directors' With David Lynch, Richard Linklater, Todd Haynes And More Watch: Full 90-Minute Documentary 'Great Directors' With David Lynch, Richard Linklater, Todd Haynes And More Exclusive: Matthew Gray Gubler Has Flashbacks In Clip From 'Suburban Gothic' Exclusive: Matthew Gray Gubler Has Flashbacks In Clip From 'Suburban Gothic' The 10 Best Films Of 2000 The 10 Best Films Of 2000 "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice The 20 Most Anticipated Foreign Films Of 2015 The 20 Most Anticipated Foreign Films Of 2015 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Review: 'The Silence' An Effectively Moody Murder Mystery

The Playlist By Gabe Toro | The Playlist March 8, 2013 at 12:54PM

A young girl in a summer dress bikes down an empty road, followed by a mysterious red four-door at the start of “The Silence.” It doesn’t take much detective work to know where this is going, the result being the horrific disappearance of young Sinnika. Eventually, her body is found dumped in the river, defiled but absent of evidence, though the movie has chosen us to see it’s in fact the work of wayward youth Peer, who gave in to his impulses as accomplice Timo sat and watched.
1
The Silence

A young girl in a summer dress bikes down an empty road followed by a mysterious red four-door at the start of “The Silence.” It doesn’t take much detective work to know where this is going, the result being the horrific disappearance of young Sinnika. Eventually, her body is found dumped in the river, defiled but absent of evidence, though the movie has chosen us to see it’s in fact the work of wayward youth Peer, who gave in to his impulses as accomplice Timo sat and watched.

The Silence

Twenty-three years later, it happens again: young Pia, a freewheeling teenage girl, has vanished in the same spot. The parallels are impossible to avoid, as authorities struggle to make sense of what separates these two cases. As the days march on, the failure to find Pia’s body gradually reveals a homicide that may be connected to Sinnika’s death, shaking up the lives of those surrounding both cases. The ambiguity of the title “The Silence” soon becomes a vexing puzzle, with the constant implication that the pieces might not exactly fit; even if they do, something will always seem awry.

Timo (Wotan Wilke Mohring) has never recovered from that day, even as he’s gone on to start a family under a new name. The similarities between the Pia and Sinnika cases strike a nerve, reminding him of the impulsive “friend” he’s left behind. The news reports lead him to seek out Peer (Ulrich Thomsen), with the temptation to restart their vaguely homoerotic relationship, borne out of a shared appreciation for Peer’s homemade child pornography.

The Silence

Tensions flare up at the police department meanwhile, as officers strain to develop a connection between the two cases. The pressure mounts to find a body, particularly with one hard-boiled veteran still wracked by the loss of his wife. Spending nights alone, drinking while wearing her clothes, he pours over the details of each tragedy, developing a personal connection to the parents of both girls. His hard drinking and arguments with his supervisor sometimes threaten to push “The Silence” into “Law And Order” territory, but the film continuously pulls back from each sub-story to reveal a bigger emotional web that ties each participant in the mystery together.

Sinnika’s mother remains so haunted by the death of her only daughter that she spends every day jogging past the site of her death. But we see Pia’s parents are most shaken by their regret, wondering if they gave their hormonal charge just a bit too much extra freedom; her few moments of screen time involve her sassing her folks with teenage rage, but their final conversation ends with her leaving a fateful message on the phone, urging them not to worry because, “I love you both.” It’s both off-handed, delivered with casual insouciance but also half-phrased like a pleading request. Some distant teens embrace apathy, while others clearly make the effort to learn empathy, even if it seems clear they lack the necessary reasoning skills.

The Silence

It’s those sorts of details that allows “The Silence” to rise beyond the level of a simple whodunit. The picture it recalls is Korean epic “Memories Of Murder,” which follows a decades-spanning murder investigation that seems determined to elude closure. The same existential frustration guides “The Silence,” particularly in how these parents start to relate to each other. The older couple know the damage has been done to their psyche, though their initial frustration regarding the Sinnika case boils over once again once they see the administrative failure that allows Pia’s killer to roam free. It emerges not from their own distrust of the system, but the futile desire to ensure another couple need not withstand what they did.

“The Silence” is directed with sharp precision and maturity, deftly balancing a large cast and refusing to give in to the station-to-station procedural aspects of the story. The emphasis on the varying, sometimes conflicting emotions of the case fortunately obscures some of the more TV-level elements on display, such as the poor attempt at de-aging Mohring and Thomsen with gaudy “young person” wigs, a touch that suggests a stretched-thin budget. But it’s a token misstep granted to an otherwise top-shelf murder mystery that examines the prices paid on all sides from the corruption of a pure life. [B+] 

This article is related to: Review, Ulrich Thomsen


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates