HollywoodChicago.com RSS   Facebook   HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter   Free Giveaway E-mail   

Guilt, Grief Wrapped Up in Mystery of ‘The Silence’

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionE-mail page to friendE-mail page to friendPDF versionPDF version
Average: 4 (1 vote)
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – With echoes of “The Vanishing” and “Memories of Murder,” Baran bo Odar’s dread-filled “The Silence” is a character-based thriller that focuses more on the people wrapped up in its web of perversion and murder than the crimes themselves. It’s an accomplished debut with a notable German cast that falters only a bit in terms of plotting and pacing but still heralds the arrival of a confident director who works well with both actors and visual composition. “The Silence” can be punishingly bleak and even depressing but it’s undeniably well-made and performed at the same time.

Two men – Peer (Ulrich Thomsen) and Timo (Wotan Wilke Mohring) – sit and watch a film in a darkened room. Timo’s stunned, ashamed reaction makes it clear that the film is not a happy one. They get in a car and drive off, passing a young girl named Pia on a bike. They double back and head after the girl. Peer gets out of the car and brutally, sexually assaults her, before killing her. Timo is shocked but silent. He even watches as Peer dumps the girl’s body in the lake.

The Silence
The Silence
Photo credit: Music Box Films

23 years later and the community still reels from the fact that Pia’s killer was never found. Pia’s mother (Katrin Sass) and stepfather (Burgart Klaussner), who happened to be the investigating officer on the case, still live under the heavy blanket of grief. So does Timo, having done nothing to stop the crime nor report on the murderer who still lives in the same apartment where they watched the film that inspired him to kill. Timo has a family now and daughters of his own but the past lingers for everyone.

And then the past becomes the present when another girl goes missing with clues of murder found in the same spot where Pia was killed. Is the new disappearance related? How could it not be? An obsessive police officer (Sebastian Blomberg) begins putting everything together and it seems clear that the new murder will help solve the old one.

The Silence
The Silence
Photo credit: Music Box Films

Working from a book by Jan Costin Wagner, Baran bo Odar is clearly a filmmaker more concerned with issues like grief, guilt, and the emotional impact of loss than he is about the specific plotting of a crime thriller. These thematic elements are woven into every aspect of “The Silence” from the helicopter shots of a landscape where a body could be missing for days or even weeks to the dark interiors where secrets are hidden.

Some of the plotting of “The Silence” feels a bit forced (like the cop’s superior who puts up roadblocks even against every obviously correct avenue of investigative exploration) and the vast array of characters might fit a longer format like AMC’s “The Killing” better than a feature film. However, there’s a degree of honesty in the characters here that’s rarely seen in Hollywood feature thrillers. Blomberg’s commitment/obsession, Klaussner’s grief, Mohring’s guilt, Thomsen’s malevolence – these are all elements that lesser filmmakers would ignore in favor of the mystery of the piece. Odar’s film works because it’s made by a filmmaker who dares to suggest that it’s not the crime but the people impacted by it that makes for great drama.

“The Silence” stars Ulrich Thomsen, Wotan Wilke Mohring, Katrin Sass, Sebastian Blomberg, Burghart Klaussner, Karoline Eichhorn, and Roeland Wiesnekker. It was written and directed by Baran bo Odar. It will be released at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago on March 15, 2013.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

User Login

Free Giveaway Mailing


  • Speech & Debate (stage play)

    CHICAGO – “Speech & Debate,” the latest production from the mighty Brown Paper Box Company, continues their tradition of thinking outside that “box” in presenting storefront theater that makes a statement and a difference. “Speech” goes inside America by showcasing the outsiders… those who create art because they can’t get it right in real life. This non-equity Chicago stage play premiere is finely tuned and wonderfully acted, and runs through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • We're Gonna Be Okay

    CHICAGO – The 1960s were a time of historical social transition. The movements – civil rights, feminist, gay rights – all had roots in that tumultuous decade. The Chicago premiere of Basil Kreimendahl’s “We’re Gonna Be Okay” echoes all of those movements in its characters, and collides them against the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the American Theater Company through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.


HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter


HollywoodChicago.com Top Ten Discussions