Set in rural England and inspired by real life events. The Silent Child centres around a profoundly deaf four year old girl named Libby who is born into a middle class family and lives in a world of silence until a caring social worker teaches her the gift of communication.
The Silent Child is probably the lessor of the five nominated films for the 2018 Oscars for the simple reason that it's too... preachy. The story of a young deaf girl in a fairly big well-to-do English family who connects with a sign-language interpreter (or it may be the other way around, or both, I think the woman is the main character but it's hard to say exactly) is easy enough to pull on the heart-strings, and that's the problem. It could be something that might make for a more engaging subject as a feature, to see this relationship unfold over time and to get to know the parents more. Unfortunately in the scope of a short, even one as long as twenty minutes, we don't see much more of the parents outside of 'Yeah, sure, teach our kid, but you have no power and we'll decide and rule for "what's best", etc' and it's typical and not interesting.
The ending is certainly a tough, tragic beat, but it may also simply be at a disadvantage with the other nominated films; I want to judge this on its own, and on its own it's a safe, sappy little piece of melodrama, right down to the music. But one can't help but compare it to the others since it's part of the program that screens with all of the other nominated shorts, and in this group of also largely issue-directed but also stronger and more forceful in scope (school would-be shooter and African terrorists are tough competition, it falls up short. It's not particularly badly made and it's heart is in the right place, and yet it's too trapped in sending a message that, frankly, shouldn't sound like such a big deal.
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