Silent Tongue (1994)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Playwright Sam Shepard wrote and directed this bizarre combination of western film revisionism and Greek tragedy. Silent Tongue (Tantoo Cardinal) is a mute Kiowa who is raped by Eamon McCree (Alan Bates), the owner of the Kickapoo Traveling Medicine Show. Eamon attempts to make up for his crime by marrying her, hoping for forgiveness. Instead, Silent Tongue enacts a bitter retribution through her two daughters, Awbonnie (Sheila Tousey) and Velada (Jeri Arredondo). Awbonnie, as the film begins, has already died, but her grieving husband Talbot (River Phoenix) refuses to let her go, dragging around her corpse. To assuage Talbot, his father Prescott (Richard Harris) sets out to purchase Velada from Eamon, thinking that only Awbonnie's sister can replace her in Talbot's eyes. But Velada's half-brother Reeves (Dermot Mulroney) protests the attempted transaction. As a result, Prescott kidnaps Velada and flees, with not only Reeves and Eamon chasing him, but also Awbonnie's ghost.
Drama , Western
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Written By:
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River Phoenix
as Talbot Roe
Richard Harris
as Prescott Roe
Alan Bates
as Eamon McCree
Sheila Tousey
as Awbonnie/Ghost
Dermot Mulroney
as Reeves McCree
Tantoo Cardinal
as Silent Tongue
Bill Irwin
as Comic
David Shiner
as Straight Man
Jeri Arredondo
as Velada McCree
Tommy Thompson
as Red Clay Rambler
Jack Herrick
as Red Clay Rambler
Bland Simpson
as Red Clay Rambler
Clay Buckner
as Red Clay Rambler
Chris Frank
as Red Clay Rambler
Arturo Gil
as 1st Little Person Acrobat
Joseph S. Griffo
as 2nd Little Person Acrobat
Phillip Attmore
as Boy Tap Dancer
Al Lujan
as Kiowa Drummer
Devino Tricoche
as Fire-Eater
April Tatro
as Contortionist
Tim Carroll
as Stage Coach Driver
Nicholas Ortiz y Pino
as Young Reeves
Robert Harnesberger
as Buffalo Hunter
Fred Maio
as Owner
David E. Wynne
as Easterner
Sky Fabin
as Easterner
Leslie Fleming
as Easterner
Jill Scott Momaday
as Prostitute
Lynn Davis
as Prairie Girl
Tim Scott
as The Lone Man
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Critic Reviews for Silent Tongue

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (9)

The lone lure of this supernatural Western is a truly possessed performance by River Phoenix in his last completed role.

Full Review… | April 21, 2015
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

An alternately infuriating and exhilarating example of the Western as an art film.

Full Review… | April 21, 2015
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

A strangely satisfying and challenging piece of work, one that illustrates how elements of cinema, literature and theater can work in tandem, thanks to a recipe that is one part Poe and two parts Shakespeare.

Full Review… | April 21, 2015
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Something deep and allegorical could be going on here, but Silent Tongue is at once so overwrought and desert-dull that you can't be bothered to investigate.

Full Review… | April 21, 2015
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

A bizarre, meandering and, finally, maddening mystical oater that will find few partisans.

Full Review… | April 11, 2011
Top Critic

Intriguing, then, but defiantly slow and awkward.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Silent Tongue

All he needs is a voice. Talbot is a man who can't handle the death of his Indian bride and sits under a tree waiting for his death to join her. His father, who made a trade for the Indian bride, seeks the bride's sister in hopes that she can snap his son out of it. The sister reluctantly agrees to help the father but they have no idea how gone the son will be when they finally reach him. "She's just going to die on you...just like I did." Sam Shepard, director of Far North, delivers Silent Tongue in his second major motion picture. The storyline for this picture was just okay and kind of cliché for the genre, but the settings and cast are above average. The cast includes River Phoenix, Alan Bates, Richard Harris, Bill Irwin, and Dermot Mulroney. "The whole prairie is thirsting for our women." I came across a few River Phoenix movies on Netflix and decided to add all of them to my wish list. This was a very average and mediocre addition to the western genre and did not display Phoenix's talent, in my opinion. There really isn't much to see here and I'd probably skip this movie unless you're a fan of the Phoenix. "Their dogs will be eating our testicles by nightfall." Grade: C-

Kevin Robbins
Kevin Robbins

I KNOW there is a good movie lurking-around somewhere in this poorly edited film . . . River's Last (aside from DARK BLOOD) would somebody release the footage from Dark Blood please?

Gordon Terry
Gordon Terry

With name recognized actors and a western setting, I was ready to love this movie. Instead of the darkly enticing movie I was hoping for, I got this boring, poorly acted morass of Native American legend and old west morality. A movie that tarnishes the memories of Harris and Phoenix and one that Mulroney should wish he could erase from his filmography.

Don Schick
Don Schick

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