Review: Silence

Written and directed by Hamish Downie, after being discovered trying to escape, a woman must survive the night with her abusive girlfriend. Starring: Tomoko Hayakawa and Qyoko Kudo.

Making a silent film in modern day may be in a technical sense an easy thing to do, however pulling it off sincerely isn’t so easy but Silence manages to strike a nice compromise between keeping modern quality and paying homage to silent cinema. Incorporating a few simple special effects in post to add to the classic atmosphere works surprisingly well. Adding a well tuned score that chimes in at the right times also creates a stylish and evocative feel.

The story quickly builds a very mysterious air, while it does slowly reveal itself, you can’t help but to be intrigued by the larger story behind it. It’s a well constructed snapshot of a tale of abuse, giving you just enough of a look to make it work by itself and to pique your interest about its consequences and origins. It doesn’t suffer any losses by not using dialogue, instead it feeds into the atmosphere of the film, holding its mystery and melancholy. Bringing in an element of dance was a good choice to further the energy it builds, to add a sadistic romance almost and a typical framing of obsession that’s very effective. Hayakawa and Kudo resist the typical urge to heighten your acting because of the absence of words and instead play just the right note of drama to get the serious nature of the story across.

For a film that takes place over 5-minutes it manages to get in a smoothly blended variety of shots, it moves around plenty without feeling like too much, too fast or too confusing. The visual is sharp and crisp, it doesn’t lean towards the more emotional side of the story, it holds the story in a much more enticing frame. The choices of locations certainly work to push the atmosphere that it builds, especially those with a more dilapidated look. That broken down, abandoned visual lends some isolation, as well as emphasising a feeling of being trapped.

Silence plays to its strengths, it pays homage to silent cinema while never sacrificing a sharp, well-defined visual to get the best of both worlds. It does well to create a fairly strong atmosphere in a short amount of time and the direction makes the most of what the story has to offer. It feels as though it had much more to say but it’s an intriguing and well crafted few minutes.

Verdict: ✯✯✯½ | 7/10

Check out where it’s available to watch here

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