Silent Light (Stellet licht)

Critics Consensus

Silent Light demands patience -- and rewards willing viewers with a compassionate and beautifully filmed look at the human condition.



Total Count: 24


Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,395
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Movie Info

A man of faith succumbs to a temptation he cannot resist in this drama written and directed by Carlos Reygadas. Johan (Cornelio Wall Fehr) and Esther (Miriam Toews) have been married for years, and live with their children in a Mennonite community Mexico. While Johan and Esther are both taciturn by nature, a moral dilemma is tearing Johan apart -- he's been having an affair with another woman in their circle, Marianne (Maria Pankratz), and feels he may be falling in love with her. While the tenants of his faith strictly forbid adultery, his need to be with Marianne seems stronger than the dictates of his moral compass, and while he's confessed his sins to Esther and his close friend Zacarias (Jacobo Klassen), subjecting himself to the shame of truth hasn't buffered his desires. Even worse, after Johan confesses to his father about his lust for Marianne, he's told that he may have fallen under the sway of Satan. Luz Silenciosa (aka Silent Light) received its world premiere at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.


Critic Reviews for Silent Light (Stellet licht)

All Critics (24) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (21) | Rotten (3)

  • The film requires an investment from audiences that it more than repays.

    Dec 2, 2018 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Wendy Ide

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • One of the finest filns of the year and absolutely worthy of many repeated viewings.

    Dec 2, 2018 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • Reygadas communicates in a superbly controlled cinematic idiom and conjures up a hypnotic address to the viewer.

    Dec 2, 2018 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • The spectacle of watching these strange blonde-haired characters set against the lush backdrop of Mexico is both startling and engaging.

    Dec 2, 2018 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Kate Lloyd
    Top Critic
  • One of the most shocking, unexpected and daring finales in a long while.

    Jul 29, 2010 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

    Dave Calhoun

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • A stunning work, a transcendent, nearly spiritual experience, from the breathtaking opening shot to the haunting final frame.

    Jun 6, 2019 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Silent Light (Stellet licht)

  • Mar 16, 2012
    If someone told me that one of my favourite movies would be from a Mexican filmmaker on a language which probably officially doesn't exist, I would, just last week, say : "Dream it!"... But, after watching "Silent Light" (Plautdietsch: Stellet Licht) written and directed by Carlos Reygadas I have to say - "You're right!" This story is set in a Mennonite community in Chihuahua, and is very unusual for a social group like that! A married man falls in love with another woman... and decides to leave his family with six children. It was a real surprise that the dialogue was fully in Plautdietsch, the language of the Flemish Mennonites. That was with a reason, because all the performers in the movie are Mennonites from communities in Mexico, Germany and Canada. Carlos Reygadas's "trademarks" are his long sequences, slow rhythm, and use of nonprofessional actors... and this time he used his "trademarks" the best possible way! Even Martin Scorsese called the film "A surprising picture and a very moving one as well." Haven't seen such cinematography in long, long time - where ALL the scenes shine with a visual and emotional brilliance. The story could be developed more but there was no need for it! Every single image on the screen could be perfect still shot... that's how carefully this film was edited and how excellent the camera work was. One of the critics noticed that "characters seem to be illuminated from the inside" and that was a perfect choice of words for this occasion! There was some sacredness in its entrancing spell... I want more of it - seems I am hooked!
    Panta O Super Reviewer
  • Nov 28, 2011
    i. Tarr's pacing ii. Bresson's religious existentialist questionings iii. Bergman's metaphysical statements ("Winter Light" + "The Silence" = "Silent Light") iv. Tarkovsky's cathartic ambience and scenery v. The snowy landscapes of European auteurs (Zanussi, Bergman, Vlácil) vi. Dreyer's characters, scenarios and final conclusion. <i>Stellet Licht</i>'s focus has proven my suspicions about the commentary of Reygadas towards the Catholic practices to be true. Another Buñuel arises, divinely exalting God and Christianity and bashing rituals that conduce to eternal void. God as an omniscient character observing man taking his own path... The human will does not exist without Him... and Reygadas orchestrating an opera of stillness and wonderful sensations, until the sun hides its face from the Earth. 99/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Dec 17, 2010
    Beautifully filmed, with no music score to distract the viewer, this is a lush film that unfortunately takes more than two hours to tell a simple tale that would have been better served with a much tighter edit. There is little to distract, but also very little to engage the viewer as scenes stretch on interminably with very little dialog. As a glimpse into life in a Mennonite community in northern Mexico, this leaves a lot to be desired, as there is little insight into the beliefs and practices of the people. All we really know comes from observation. The families tend to be large. All members of the family are expected to contribute. The religious observances are quite austere and more conducive to inner reflection than to building community. And this community is not immune to infidelity. A most unsatisfying experience for this viewer.
    Mark A Super Reviewer
  • Mar 07, 2010
    mennonite infidelity in rural mexico.. the story is interesting but the cinematography takes the cake. the extremely slow-paced, luscious camerawork is gorgeous.
    steve c Super Reviewer

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