The ripples generated by young Pia's rape and murder reach many: the grieving mother, the police, the second man who watches the killing, and associated families. Then, 23 years later on the same date of July 8th, a 13-year-old disappears under similar circumstances. There's no mystery for the viewer who perpetrated the first homicide in 1986, and so the interest focuses no the police--not their tactics as much as their reactions, especially Detective David Jahn whose wife recently died of cancer. His difficulty coping with that death impacts his behavior in this investigation, one that involves children, spouses and colleagues.
Based on the novel by Jan Costin Wagner with a screenplay by director Baran Bo Odar, "The Silence" shows that murder is never an event isolated in time or confined to one person. Exploring that idea, the plot follows the disturbing links over the course of a week throughout the community. Odar cares more about a menacing atmosphere than sensationalized violence, more about the guilt and the dark secrets individuals harbor than finding a killer. To involve the viewer in these diverse lives, performances are superb with actors who look like real people.
Cinematographer Nikolaus Summerer's compositions and Andre Matthias' music create an atmosphere of apprehension, relieved periodically by shots soaring over the beautiful landscape that mocks the human condition. Editor Robert Rzesacz intelligibly cross cuts among characters and chronology, teasing out comparisons and contrasts. "The Silence" is a thoughtful and thought-provoking film. In German with English subtitles. At a Landmark Theatre.