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Most murders are committed by people who know their victim, a fact that
is standard fare in most whodunits. Rarely are murders committed at
random, although the recent horrific thriller Funny Games (1997, remade
2007) presents the worst possible scenario.
But random murders do occur in real life: all over the world, people disappear and forever remain 'dead' with family and friends who are forever in limbo, unable to achieve closure. Only sometimes are the perpetrators caught.
With that thematic background, The Silence presents just that scenario with the rape and murder of a young female teen that remains on the books of the local police for 23 years until it happens again to another teen, on the same day of the year, at the same place, and with the same modus operandi.
Unlike other serial killer movies for example, The Silence of the Lambs (1991) we know the identity of the killer from the get-go. Moreover, we also immediately know there are two perpetrators, although one of them is obviously reluctant to participate, even passively as he watches. As the two criminals, Ulrich Thomsen (as Peer Sommer) and Woltan Mohring (as Timo Friedrich) give strong and believable performances that center upon their individual but similar proclivities for depravity: brave actors both to take on such abhorrent roles.
But why a gap of 23 years? Well, that's where the story really starts, after we see the first murder in the first five minutes. And when the second murder occurs, so also occurs the retirement party for the local police detective (Krischan Mittich played by Burghart Klaussner) who failed to solve the first; so also the return to duty of an eccentric, grieving, widowed officer (David Jahn played by Sebastian Blomberg) who is obviously still distraught by the loss of his wife (to cancer) and who engages in bizarre activity; and so also the emotional awakening of the mother of the first murdered teen (Elena Lange played by Katrin Sass), who has been locked in unrelenting grief for over twenty years.
And in that mix there is repressed and introverted Timo now a successful architect, beautiful home, lovely wife, two munchkins, the works who, when he reads about the second murder, knows immediately who it is and decides something must be done But, what?
As the police investigate, and as the clues are revealed, the net so to speak tightens without the two miscreants knowing. But, as viewers, we know it all, and gradually we move to the edge of our seat as we see how the wrong decisions are made, how the wrong inferences are drawn, how actions by one can be misconstrued by another all too easily, and ultimately how facts can be ignored or discarded for political expediency or professional jealousy and for the need to close a case, once and for all.
Arguably, suspenseful story doesn't get much better than this; although some viewers might argue about narrative holes and coincidence. However, because it's so believable it's so much better, especially the ending which I'm sure many maybe most viewers will not see coming, including me. Only in the last thirty seconds, perhaps when the full irony hits you between the eyes.
The setting is semi-rural, ordinary and faultless; the production is well paced, even at two hours; the dramatic acting there is absolutely no comic relief is flawless; and the direction is so good, well, a glance or look truly is more effective than a thousand words. The background music is appropriate but, at times, borders on clichéd, I think. However, this is a movie I'll watch again not only for the story but also for the narrative structure that combines so many different threads of lives shattered by indifference, inaction, inadequacy or inconsolable sadness.
When the bicycle of a 13-year-old Sinikka is discovered in the exact
same wheat field where a heinous murder/rape took place 23 years prior,
retired police detective Krischan senses that the two crimes are
connected, and vows to bring the killer to justice. The fact that
Krischan was unable to catch the killer two decades prior still haunts
him to this very day, but perhaps with the help of ambitious young
officer David, this time he will find a way to bring closure to the
case. Later, as the investigation begins and a sweltering summer heat
wave washes over the town, the young victim's parents begin to
experience an overwhelming sense of dread concerning a clean cut
husband and father who had recently visited their home.
This slow-paced thriller is stunning by all means. The characterization is very well done and cinematography is amazing showing the semi-rural countryside of Germany, the camera angles are fantastic explaining many things about the characters.
The narration is amazing because it has so many ends to tie and agony of the characters has been portrayed impeccably. The direction is watertight; everything is well placed and told significantly.
An original thriller from Swiss born Baran bo Odar, kudos to him.
Recommended to quality cinema lovers.
German screenwriter and director Baran Bo Odar's feature film debut
which he wrote and co-produced, is an adaptation of a novel from 2007
by German writer Jan Costin Wagner. It premiered at the 63rd Locarno
International Film Festival in 2010, was shot on location in Erfurt,
Nürnberg and Erlangen in Germany and is a German production which was
produced by producers Jörg Schulze, Maren Lüthje, Florian Schneider and
Frank Evers. It tells the story about a rural town in Germany where an
eleven-year-old girl was brutally murdered on her way home on her
bicycle on a summer day in July 1986. The case was never solved and the
residents went on with their lives, but twenty-three years later a
young girl by the name of Sinikka Weghamm leaves her parents to meet
some of her friends and does not return home. The following day, a
police officer named David Jahn who recently returned to his job after
having been away due to the loss of his wife, is informed that a local
farmer has seen a gym bag and a rock covered in blood on the cornfield
where the crime in 1986 took place. Shortly after David, his pregnant
partner Jana Gläser and his superior officer Matthias Grimmer have
gotten started with the investigation of the case, the whole town
learns about the disappearance of Sinikka Weghamm. The disturbing news
affects all the residents in the small community and especially the
mother of the first victim Elena Lange, Timo Friedrich, a married
architect with two children and Krischan Mittich, a former police
officer who thinks the two cases are related.
Distinctly and precisely directed by Swiss-born filmmaker Baran Bo Odar, this finely paced and incisive fictional tale draws an invariably intriguing and unsettling portrayal of a complicated investigation of a gruesome crime and an intimate friendship between a caretaker and a former maths student. While notable for its naturalistic and colorful milieu depictions, the ardent cinematography by cinematographer Nikolaus Summerer, production design by German production designer Christian M. Goldbeck and production designer Yesim Zolan and the efficient use of sound, this character-driven and narrative-driven psychological thriller interrelates multiple stories, depicts several studies of character and examines themes such as interpersonal relations, interpersonal communication, friendship and grief.
Set in a German town close to the countryside during the early 21st century, this foreboding and melodramatic story about the correlation between good and evil and beauty and violence, contains a fine score by composers Paz De Deaux, Kris Steininger and Michael Kamm and is impelled and reinforced by its fragmented narrative structure and the engaging and involving acting performances by Danish actor Ulrich Thomsen, German actor Burghart Klaussner, German actress Katrin Sass, German actor Wotan Wilke Möhring and German actor Sebastian Blomberg. A poignantly atmospheric and suspenseful independent film which gained the Frankfurt Book Fair Award for Best International Literary Film Adaptation in 2010.
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. At a confident and steady
pace, the script allows the characters to develop powerful, yet subtle
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's been quite a while since we've seen a pregnant policewoman on the
cinema screen. Since 1996 to be exact, when Frances McDormand played
the slow but efficient crime-solver Marge Gunderson in Fargo.
Jana Gläser, the pregnant policewoman in Das Letzte Schweigen (The Last Silence), unfortunately is not as efficient as Marge. At one point, she looks the killer in the eye, holds the evidence in her hand, asks the right questions, but nevertheless lets him go. Not because she doesn't do a good job, but because the circumstances work against her.
This German film, about the killing of a little girl on the exact same spot where 23 years before another girl was raped and killed, is not a classic whodunit. We know who committed the crime. What the film maker shows us, is how this new killing opens old wounds that were not really healed after the first one. A retired police officer tries to solve the case because he failed the first time. The mother of the first victim has to live through the whole thing once again, because she gets involved in solving the new crime. And, most intriguing, the accomplice of the first killer gets emotionally shocked by this new and almost identical crime.
Apart from the very good script, this film stands out because of the original cinematography. There are beautiful shots and original camera angles throughout the film. Just an example: when the first killers drive their car out of the garage, this is shown with an aerial shot of almost geometrical quality. Near the end of the film, we see almost the same shot when the killer drives his car into the garage. Another beautiful shot, full of suspense, is the one where we see the car of the killers back up on the road when they see the little girl ride her bike on a dirt road in the woods.
The film is shot in Bavaria. The brightly coloured shots of spotless streets and lush landscapes contrast with the inner feelings of the characters. Almost every one of them has some sort of problem. This creates an atmosphere of uneasiness, which is emphasized by repeated fast- motion shots of rolling clouds. Das Letzte Schweigen is an original crime thriller, with lots of extra qualities to make it stand out above the average.
This stunning first German film from Swiss director Baran bo Odar is on the taboo English subject of Paedophiles. The film opens with a rape and murder of an 11 year old girl in a beautiful but deadly cornfield, her body thrown in to a lake.Forward 23 years and the same thing happens in the same place.This is not a who is the child molester film you know or think you do from the start. The ending is just jaw dropping. If you liked the Danish thriller The Killing or The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo or the other recent Australian film Snowtown this is the film for you.It is very bleak and in places hard to watch due to the subject but if you can manage that this is a must see. The acting by all the cast of which i knew no one is brilliant.The film looks stunning all of it's 120 mins. There is no let up at all.A must see for those of you with guts of steel.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
From the get go we the audience find out who the perpetrators are, who
is the aggressor and who is the submissive accomplice to the first rape
and murder of a young girl riding home on her bicycle in 1986. As the
two criminals, Ulrich Thomsen (as Peer Sommer) and Woltan Mohring (as
Timo Friedrich) lives unfold over the next 23 years we observe the
police relentless pursuit of what they believe to be a single rapist
and murderer. Families of the victim and police are heart broken and
suffer immense internal pain and personal break ups in their respective
marriages. We the audience can't wait to see how these two evil doers
will be discovered and justice will prevail.
Then, 23 years later we witness another young girl arguing with her parents about her school grades and in a retaliatory stance she takes off with her back pack and tennis racket under the pretense that if her father won't drive her to the tennis court she will get there on her own. Instead once outside of her parents near grasp she heads to the amusement park to meet her friends who don't show up at the amusement park. As dusk falls she decides to ride her bike home alone, but a cars bright headlights are following her and within the time it takes the audience to take a deep breath, she disappears and is announced by the police and media as another missing person.
Who killed her? We are not sure but we have a pretty good idea. The submissive perpetrator Timo Friedrich, who now has a loving wife and two children of his own is still haunted by the 1986 murder and decides to confront the alpha dog Peer Sommer. Will they attempt to capture, rape and torture another girl now that they are back together, or will they attempt to kill each other to maintain "The Silence"?
In the true sense of the thriller genre we the audience with our investigative and limited analytical brains scrambling trying to figure how this will end are witness to a sad but true to life ending that has occurred all around the world with the senseless murders of so many young girls and with the unknown and continued silence of the who and why? The police force who have been on this case for the past 23 years celebrate the lead investigators retirement with new detectives vigorously re-opening the original case now that a second missing girl has been reported missing in the exact same location. There is much tension in the ways and means the investigation should be handled by the lead detective and his captain.
This film is well worth a watch even with English sub titles. It will capture your heart and soul for a different outcome then the silence. A strong 8 out of 10 rating is deserved for this German released film.
"Das Letzte Schweigen" a.k.a. "The Silence" is a sleeper thriller that genuinely shocked and dumbfounded me, but mainly AFTER it was finished! It's the type of film that slowly gets under your skin and the true horror of the plot only hits you afterwards, because you are subconsciously analyzing and re-processing the agitating events over and over again. It was quite a harsh confrontation for me, especially because I'm into dark and devastating horror & cult cinema for nearly two decades now and I have seen numerous of allegedly controversial movies. But "The Silence" is largely different to anything I have ever seen before. It's an extremely slow and moody tale full of totally messed up characters (not a single one qualifies as even remotely normal) and horrifying events & themes that are depicted in a nihilistic and almost everyday fashion. The plot gradually unfolds and the viewer absorbs everything that is coming at him/her, but the truly evil nature of the denouement and the injustice of the climax only hit you and quite hard, I may add - once the end credits are rolling over the screen. The story starts in a remote little German town in the summer of 1986. Two young men, who share the disgusting passion of watching child pornography (it's not explicitly shown but clearly suggested), are driving around in their red Volkswagen when they spot an 11-year-old girl bike-riding on a dirt road. One of them, Peer Sommer, viciously rapes and murders the defenselessly screaming girl while his pal Timo remains motionless and petrified in the car. Shortly after the incident, Timo flees away from Peer in an attempt to forget everything that has happened and start a new life elsewhere. 23 years later, on the exact same day and on the exact same place, the bicycle and a couple of blood stains of 13-year-old Sinikka Weghamm are discovered. The disappearance of the girl is a nightmare for her parents, but also for the mother of the still unsolved previous murder case as well as for the police officers retired and incompetent new ones that are charged with the case. Is it the work of a copycat killer or has the original killer returned? The truth is even more nightmarish than anything you can think of. "The Silence" benefices from a continuously foreboding atmosphere and the gradually revealed details of the case make you uncomfortable. At several points during the movie, you'll find yourself cursing and screaming at the screen in an attempt to speed up the slow police investigation. Themes like child murder and pedophilia automatically make any thriller disturbing, but the sober tone and bleak characters in "The Silence" are almost unbearable. Young director Baran Bo Odar maintains the nail-biting ambiance throughout the entire film and all the acting performances, particularly those of Ulrich Thomsen and Wotan Wilke Möhring, are deeply impressive. There are definitely some plot holes to detect regarding the police investigation and the involvement of the media, but somehow it feels like a factual murder case really could be as ineptly led as this one. The total absence of music, humor and certain background explanations only make the film more haunting. This definitely isn't viewing material for everyone, but highly recommended to thriller fanatics in search of a mature and complex story.
Based on the novel by Jan Costin Wagner, "The Silence" is a
fascinating, beautifully realized crime drama from Germany.
The movie centers around two identical crimes, both occurring at the identical place, though 23 years apart. Both involve the murder and possible rape of a young girl biking alone through an isolated meadow.
The script by Baran bo Odar examines the case from the viewpoints of the perpetrators, the victims, the victims' families, and the law enforcement officials who have some pretty intense psychological issues of their own to deal with. The life-shattering impact on the parents, along with their inconsolable grief, the frustrations of the investigators, the remorse and guilt (or lack thereof) on the part of the criminals - all are woven into a rich tapestry that mixes crime-and-detection elements with generous dollops of morbid psychology.
The most interesting character is Timo Friedrich (superbly enacted by Wotan Wilke Mohring), an "accomplice" to the initial crime and a prime suspect in the second, who has so many inner demons of his own to account for that he has become utterly consumed by feelings of guilt and self-loathing.
Unlike in the typical American police procedural, the investigators here are not played by drop-dead gorgeous movie stars but by frumpy, slightly saggy and balding middle-aged performers who look like actual honest-to-God people you might encounter in real life. And all are excellent.
In addition, the movie doesn't cater to the audience's desire for a clear-cut resolution, and in so doing, acknowledges that life does not always work out the way it does in the movies.
Odar's direction is both spare and slightly surreal at times, so that the world he's portraying always feels strangely off-kilter, as befits the subject matter.
A triumph for all concerned, "The Silence" is easily one of the best movies of 2013 thus far.
In 1986, an 11 year old girl Pia is raped and murdered in a wheat field
near a small German town by one man while another watched. Her bicycle
was left in the field and the killer was never found. The man who
watched takes off after the murder. Twenty three years later, 13 year
old Sinikka Weghamm goes missing after the local fair. Her bicycle is
found at the site of Pia murder.
This is another dark psychological crime thriller. It is a good representation of the ugliness amidst the normal everyday society. The dark subject matter is normal for these types of movies nowadays. It would be shocking 20 years ago. Today, it's on network TV. The actors do a fine depicting these characters under stress. It remains intriguing until the end.
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