Thursday, 6 June 2013

The Silence.

This German thriller is directed and written by Swiss born Baran bo Odar and based on a novel called Das Schwegen by Jan Costin Wagner. When The Silence (2010) opens we witness two men sitting in a darkened apartment watching a cine film, these two men have recently became friends while both were observing young children in a play area. Peer Sommer and Timo Friedrich get into Perr’s car and go out for a drive; they spot Pia an 11-year-old female, she’s cycling on a lonely country path across a wheat field. Peer’s stops the car, chases the girl across the field and rapes her. He then batters her head in with a rock and dispossess of the body. Timo is a witness to the whole event but does not get out of the car until both men arrive home. Traumatised Timo gets on a bus and leaves town. 23 years latter 13-year-old Sinnikka goes missing, her bike is discovered in the same wheat field!

This is not just a movie about paedophilia; it’s a film about loneliness and how an inept small town police force can put its own personnel hang-ups before the investigation of two murders 23 years apart. It’s the fullness of the characters that makes this film stand out from so many other police procedurals. Firstly we have Senior Detective Krischan Mittich who failed to solve the original case and is retiring 23 years to the day after Pia was murdered. His obsession with solving this crime was at the detriment of his marriage that disintegrated and left him lonely and bitter. The new murder is being investigated by David Jahn, a man so emotionally damaged by the death of his wife from cancer the he has only just returned to work after five months in a treatment centre.  Even now he still suffers from fits and dresses in his dead wife’s clothes. In charge of the case is Mittich’s replacement and great rival Matthias Grimmer an incompetent policeman who never listens to any advice from his officers or from the man he replaced. The other member of the team is Jana Glazer, a heavily pregnant female detective who has a thing for Jahn and seems unable to follow her own instincts.
Peers and Timo have something sinister in common.
The only actor I am familiar with is Ulrich Thomson who plays the otherwise kindly caretaker Peer Sommer. He appeared in the Danish film that won Best Foreign Language Film in the 83rd Academy awards, In A Better World (2010) and you might also remember him from the 2004 Danish drama Brodre (Brothers).  The acting is first rate, the cinematography highlights the beautiful Bavarian countryside and although it may stretch credibility a touch, it’s a powerful film that would satisfy fans of Scandinavian crime drama.

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