7.3/10
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51 user 107 critic

Silent Light (2007)

Stellet Licht (original title)
In a Mennonite community in Mexico, a father's faith is tested when he falls in love with a new woman.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Cornelio Wall ...
Miriam Toews ...
Maria Pankratz ...
Peter Wall ...
Jacobo Klassen ...
Elizabeth Fehr ...
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Himself (archive footage)
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Storyline

Johan (Cornelio Wall Fehr), a Mennonite living in Mexico, is tormented with guilt over his extramarital affair with Marianne (Maria Pankratz). His father (Peter Wall), best friend (Jacobo Klassen) and wife (Miriam Toews) know the truth, but Johan's suffering has to do with his faith, which he can't reconcile with his deeds. Written by dfwforeignbuff

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Drama | Romance

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Details

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Release Date:

12 October 2007 (Mexico)  »

Also Known As:

Silent Light  »

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Budget:

€980,000 (estimated)
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2.35 : 1
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Trivia

Martin Scorsese called this film "A surprising picture, and a very moving one as well." See more »

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User Reviews

 
The sights and sounds, the seriousness these Mennonites take their love and death, is all moving
5 August 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Silent Light (2007)

I don't think you should pre-judge this film by director Carlos Reygadas's known style--lots of long, matter of fact takes, and mostly amateur actors. This is a Mexican film, and some Spanish language appears, but most of it is in a Mennonite dialect, a kind of country German carried over by Russian immigrants. Seeing these simple people from the inside is a large part of the interest here, even though it's not a documentary. Reygadas makes it a point to get the pace of their lives, which is apparently very slow!

It's odd to see such deliberate photography in the mold of Ozu, with the still camera and the offscreen activity now and then, and to realize how difficult it is to pull that off. Only because it doesn't quite work here. It becomes an affectation, even so that the curvature of the widescreen (and anamorphic, I think) photography becomes a distraction. The approach, however, makes for a very quiet movie, viscerally, and because of that it penetrates the characters and gets to some moving issues.

It's a deeply felt story, for sure, and that was enough to make me want to watch it. But there were times when I felt like I was sitting it out through conviction. It almost forced you to feel sad, and to share the loneliness of these country folk who struggle on their farms not to survive, but to understand love and meaning. Heavy stuff, and laid out with amazing seriousness. And also shown in clear, appreciative views.

You will get the feeling sometimes that there ought to be someone out in this forlorn landscape who is happy, and who has some sense of quick wit. But apparently not! It's a despondent experience, and that actually is what I liked about it. But I'm not sure it is enough, this drawn out sadness alone, with lots of ambient droning sounds (very vivid) overwhelms the apparent "plot" of a love that isn't appropriate.

Is it good? I think some people will totally love it. I'd recommend it for those who want to really lose themselves in another world, in realistic and un adorned terms, a world that is unspectacular on the surface, and very probing and beautiful within.


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