Critic Reviews



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I hesitate, given the early date and the project's modesty, to call Into Great Silence one of the best films of the year. I prefer to think of it as the antidote to all of the others.
Groning's approach gives the viewer a rare chance to really listen to what water sounds like when it drips from a tin bowl, or the watch what patterns raindrops make when they fall on a shallow puddle -- purely sensual, cinematic experiences. In such moments we sense the point of view of a patient, sensitive filmmaker.
This is a remarkable work of pure documentary cinema, and a mystical accomplishment on the order of Wagner's "Parsifal" or Tarkovsky's "The Sacrifice." That's hardly anybody's thing these days -- it's not often mine. But the effort, in this case, is worth it.
A transcendent, transporting experience, a trance movie that casts a major league spell by going deeply into a monastic world that lives largely without words.
New York Post
The overwhelming silence is broken mainly by chanting and the ringing of the monastery bells. Call it life in the slow, slow, slow lane.
The A.V. Club
As a place to enter and meditate, Into Great Silence is imminently worthy, but as a documentary, it doesn't do enough to probe the meaning of the quotation Gröning returns to repeatedly: "Oh Lord, you have seduced me, and I was seduced."
With a painterly eye and a deep appreciation for the hermetic world set apart from, rather than at odds with, modern life, helmer Philip Groening takes the viewer into their cloistered world.
Village Voice
Natural light is used to euphoric effect, inevitably summoning the old masters, and Gröning's frames are balanced and symmetrical, in Renaissance-ready emulation of God's perfection.
L.A. Weekly
Gröning makes us fully feel the rhythms of their lives, but for the same reasons that most of us couldn't or wouldn't last in such a stripped-down environment, the movie, at just shy of three hours, starts to feel oppressive after two.
The movie has a hushed sensual resonance, but it turns faith into an endurance test.

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