At a confident and steady pace, the script allows the characters to develop powerful, subtle performances, rather than relying on their dialogue. Suspense fans tired of low-brow, explicit exploitation movies may want to check out "The Silence," an absorbing German thriller that delivers the suspense without sacrificing the drama of the human experience.
On July 8th, 1986, a eleven year old girl Pia (Helene Doppler) is raped and murdered by Peer (Ulrich Thomsen) while a second man, Timo (Wotan Wilke Möhring), watches with equal parts of disgust and arousal. The two dispose of the body and return home, but while Peer began to destroy any potential evidence, Timo has already packed and boarded a bus out of town. 23 years later, to the very day, another young girl goes missing with only her bike and bag left behind at the very spot where Pia was abducted years ago. Writer/director Baran bo Odar's film, "The Silence," follows the distraught families, the police, and the two men behind the original unsolved case in a story that explores grief and guilt, obsession and duty.
It's a well-acted, emotion-charged drama whose murder mystery is almost secondary to the human element. It's a complex examination of the many facets of humanity in which even those who commit the most heinous acts aren't complete monsters. The film is about tragedy and the everlasting impact on those involved, from the victims to the perpetrators.
Director Baran bo Odar maintains a sense of morbid fascination in a film that in someone else's hands might become overwhelmingly unpleasant. Despite its nearly two-hour running time, it never becomes dull or depressing, thanks in part to large cast of characters whose nuanced portrayals strike a chord of truth -- terrifyingly so for any parent. Even though the conclusion isn't exactly overpowering, the journey is remarkably nuanced and compelling - and most certainly an uncomfortable one.