Baran bo Odar’s new German crime thriller opens with a horrific incident that squeamish viewers should stay away from. But that’s not even the most chilling thing about The Silence. Right up until the very end, the film indulges in twists and turns that each reveal a new truth about the crime in question and the copycat killing that follows it 23 years later.
Katrin Sass plays Elena Lange, a middle-aged single woman whose previous life crumbled when her daughter was brutally murdered in a field and thrown into a nearby river. When the same crime takes another teenage girl 23 years later, she is thrown into psychological anguish because she’s being visited by law-enforcement workers who are trying hard to get information to the deceased girl’s parents. The Silence does a terrific job of exploring the mindset of detectives in distress. Sebastian Blomberg plays David Jahn, a detective who’s going through his own mental breakdown after the death of his wife. Oliver Stokowski plays Matthias Grimmer, a lead detective who takes issue with David’s inevitable emotionalism. Grimmer admits he’s not adept with emotions; even so, the dispute and rivalry between these two characters is so palpable and tense that you frequently forget about the crime that’s being solved and become invested in the drama of the police department. The lynchpin of all the dramatic work in the movie is Timo Friedrich (Wotan Wilke Möhring), a seemingly normal father who becomes public enemy number one after fumbling the ball on the process of dealing with his haunting past. Möhring delivers a strong performance, making Timo equal parts loveable and unsalvageable.
If I sound as though I’m being purposefully enigmatic in describing this movie’s plot, I am. When you watch The Silence, and you really should, the twists become the catalyst for the movie’s ultimate success or failure. From my perspective, the film is a HUGE success.
(The Silence is now available for rental and purchase on iTunes)