Like a suffocating heat, the German crime thriller The Silence bears down on viewers with an insidious sense of dread. The story of two murdered girls—killed on the same day more than two decades apart, under eerily similar circumstances—unfolds deliberately and cruelly, suspense stoked not by secrets but by the sheer awfulness of what is known. We briefly meet Pia, an 11-year-old girl raped and killed in a field, and then the story springs forward 23 years, as another 11-year-old girl disappears. The film’s characters are studies in obsession: Pia’s mother (a wrenching Katrin Sass), who keeps her daughter’s room intact; an aging detective whose marriage fell apart due to his fixation on the original case; a young detective (a tightly wound, steely-eyed Sebastian Bloomberg) still grieving the loss of his wife to cancer. And then there’s the matter of the killer, a pokerfaced pedophile, and his passive partner-in-crime. Swiss-born director Baran bo Odar fills his debut feature with austerely beautiful shots and a hypnotically suggestive score marked by grating static and ominous string music. It’s a chilling tale, but the atmosphere is stifling.
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- Release Date: Tuesday, May 14, 2013
- Critic's Score: B+
- Watch the trailer