Silent Light (15)

Film

Drama

678.x600.film.silent.jpg

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
Rate this
 

Time Out says

Posted: Mon Dec 3 2007

There are some directors whose films burn with a passion for composition and the precise movement of their camera. There are those, too, who reject speedy editing and a quick pace in favour of creating space for contemplation and examination. Carlos Reygadas is both of those directors, and while he may not have wholly succeeded with his debut, ‘Japón’, or its follow-up, ‘Battle in Heaven’, both of which were striking but overshadowed by distracting flights of provocation – old people having sex! Inter-generational blow-jobs! – he has now made a much more mature, coherent and serious work, and one which is certainly the best yet from this rising star of thoughtful, artful cinema.

It’s impossible to prise apart the real, the spiritual and the elemental in ‘Silent Light’, a tragic drama of love, routine, adultery and God’s will that plays out in a community of Plautdietsch-speaking Mennonites in rural Mexico and which owes a large debt to Antonioni and, more specifically, Dreyer. Paunchy, ruddy Johan (Cornelio Wall Fehr) and stick-thin, dowdy Esther (Miriam Toews) are arable farmers who live a life of routine with their three young kids in the presence of God. That same God leads Johan to Marianne (Maria Pankratz), his mistress, who his friend tells him is ‘the woman nature meant for you’. Their one, discreet sexual encounter is handled superbly by Reygadas who infuses this pivotal, ominous scene with a desperation, longing and spiritual gravity that echoes Marianne’s feeling that this is ‘the saddest time of my life – but also the best’.

Reygadas, again working with non-professionals, offers realism in front of the lens – the routines of eating, bathing and working are lent an extra fascination by the alien world of the Mennonites – and poetry within it. From the opening time-lapse sunrise, each sequence is carefully and pointedly constructed – and often with a breathtaking beauty, whether it’s the movement of a combine harvester through a field or a lingering shot of a flower after a lyrical, near-silent, beguiling sequence of kids taking a dip in a pond. Time and again, Reygadas’ fixed shots segue into dead-slow zooms, each of them suggestive of the import of the moment and the coming tragedy. When tragedy comes – Johan’s affair is not without repercussions of the most disastrous (or maybe even the most divinely willed) kind – it offers one of the most shocking, unexpected and daring finales in a long while.

0

Reviews

Add +

Release details

Rated:

15

UK release:

Fri Dec 7, 2007

Duration:

136 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Carlos Reygadas

Producer:

Jaime Romandia, Carlos Reygadas

Editor:

Natalia López

Art Director:

Nohemi Gonzalez

Cinematography:

Alexis Zabé

Production Designer:

Gerardo Tagle

Screenwriter:

Carlos Reygadas

Cast:

Maria Pankratz, Miriam Toews, Cornelio Wall Fehr, Jacobo Klassen

Users say

0
<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

4.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:9
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:2
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|38
1 person listening
Richard

Whilst this film is not for the casual movie-watcher who just wants to be entertained (it is too slow-moving and peculiar in its subject for simple entertainment), for anybody whom is interested in cultures and geography and in unusual sociological subjects, this is a great insight into another world. I basically treated it like a documentary!

Richard

Whilst this film is not for the casual movie-watcher who just wants to be entertained (it is too slow-moving and peculiar in its subject for simple entertainment), for anybody whom is interested in cultures and geography and in unusual sociological subjects, this is a great insight into another world. I basically treated it like a documentary!

amor

Not to be watched if you have a three second attention span or the capability to contemplate. Great film...

amor

Not to be watched if you have a three second attention span or the capability to contemplate. Great film...

mystic

Techniguy's review is the one with which I agree most. The film is exquisitely slow, allowing us to eavesdrop into the alien world of the Mennonites, using visual and auditory lyricism and poetry, as well as protracted eloquence of silence. I may only add that I agree that the ending is metaphorical adding a religious dimension to the restorative effect of contrition, certainly not redemption. It is comparable to seeing a Bergman film directed by Antonioni.

mystic

Techniguy's review is the one with which I agree most. The film is exquisitely slow, allowing us to eavesdrop into the alien world of the Mennonites, using visual and auditory lyricism and poetry, as well as protracted eloquence of silence. I may only add that I agree that the ending is metaphorical adding a religious dimension to the restorative effect of contrition, certainly not redemption. It is comparable to seeing a Bergman film directed by Antonioni.

Eric G

I have had better times seeing friends home movies. This guy is clearly taking the pi** how he got funded remains a mystery.

Eric G

I have had better times seeing friends home movies. This guy is clearly taking the pi** how he got funded remains a mystery.

Paisye

Amazing how you can squeeze 2 hours out of a single A4 sheet of dialogue. Why did it need need 10min beginning and end of sunrise/sunset? Wouldn't be a bad film if it wasn't so tedious and had been shot with more imagination than repetitive slow zooming

Paisye

Amazing how you can squeeze 2 hours out of a single A4 sheet of dialogue. Why did it need need 10min beginning and end of sunrise/sunset? Wouldn't be a bad film if it wasn't so tedious and had been shot with more imagination than repetitive slow zooming

Technoguy

This film acts like a purgation of the junk-fest sensation and cliché language and plots of our normal cinema.It takes us out of the real world and puts our senses through a sieve through a habit of perfection,distilling an uncreated light. There is a movement in world cinema to utilise non-professional actors and natural light together.The opening (and closing) shots open us up to a slow action shot almost in real time from constellations in a black sky to dawn shots of the rising sun,with all the attendant sounds of crickets,cicadas and cattle lowing.This is a filtered and idealised human nature set in a Mennonite community of Plautdiesh –speaking people who are attuned to the season’s cycles through cattle farming and crop harvesting.The film is composed of beautiful tableaus of widescreen natural vistas,earth and sky meeting on wide horizons, well captured on the many driving sequences,backed up with a soundscape of waving grass and trees,crickets,birds and running water. Johan is sitting with his wife and six children giving silent grace with a ticking clock. Beneath the harmonious surface there is tension between the couple.His wife Esther takes the children out and he breaks down in tears when alone.He has been having a two year affair with Marianne,another Mennonite (single)female.The imagery in this film induces a kind of trance-like contemplation. His infatuated mood expresses itself through him driving round his friend Zackaria to some raunchy music.He goes on to meet Marianne in a long kissing scene which ends in them making love.He is well supported by his friend and father,who thinks it is fate or the devil’s work but does not condemn him.Johan thinks every man makes his own fate. We cut to a beautiful scene of the family bathing together.In such scenes the inner peace in the community is brought out.But his wife who he has told of his infidelity is close to tears as she loves him just as he does her,but he feels God intended Marianne for him. We see the family at a cornharvest in some stunning scenes and the machine moving through the fields of corn.Johan,Esther and the kids say silent grace by their pick-up. Johan feels torn and tells his wife he has to see Marianne,so she tells him to take the children to the dentists too.He engineers it so that a man looks after the kids in his camper van with it’s own TV set they can watch.He steals away and makes passionate love with Marianne for the last time.Marianne saying she is at her happiest and saddest since ‘Peace is stronger than love’ and expresses pity for Esther. In a bleak driving scene in the pouring rain Esther asks to get out to vomit.She runs from the car to a tree and breaks down holding it.She has a sense of loss:she used to be a part of everything,fully alive next to Johan.Now heartbroken,she dies of heart attack.She is next laid up in a coffin after being washed by her mother while her family say their last good-byes.The community sing mournful hymns.He talks to Marianne saying he’d do anything to turn back time.Marianne asks to see Esther and tears drop onto Esther’s cheek as Marianne kisses her.What follows is a kind of resurrection episode,but is probably metaphorical,a wish fulfilment happy ending. You can either reject or accept this ending but remember this has a religious setting.For me it works.

Technoguy

This film acts like a purgation of the junk-fest sensation and cliché language and plots of our normal cinema.It takes us out of the real world and puts our senses through a sieve through a habit of perfection,distilling an uncreated light. There is a movement in world cinema to utilise non-professional actors and natural light together.The opening (and closing) shots open us up to a slow action shot almost in real time from constellations in a black sky to dawn shots of the rising sun,with all the attendant sounds of crickets,cicadas and cattle lowing.This is a filtered and idealised human nature set in a Mennonite community of Plautdiesh –speaking people who are attuned to the season’s cycles through cattle farming and crop harvesting.The film is composed of beautiful tableaus of widescreen natural vistas,earth and sky meeting on wide horizons, well captured on the many driving sequences,backed up with a soundscape of waving grass and trees,crickets,birds and running water. Johan is sitting with his wife and six children giving silent grace with a ticking clock. Beneath the harmonious surface there is tension between the couple.His wife Esther takes the children out and he breaks down in tears when alone.He has been having a two year affair with Marianne,another Mennonite (single)female.The imagery in this film induces a kind of trance-like contemplation. His infatuated mood expresses itself through him driving round his friend Zackaria to some raunchy music.He goes on to meet Marianne in a long kissing scene which ends in them making love.He is well supported by his friend and father,who thinks it is fate or the devil’s work but does not condemn him.Johan thinks every man makes his own fate. We cut to a beautiful scene of the family bathing together.In such scenes the inner peace in the community is brought out.But his wife who he has told of his infidelity is close to tears as she loves him just as he does her,but he feels God intended Marianne for him. We see the family at a cornharvest in some stunning scenes and the machine moving through the fields of corn.Johan,Esther and the kids say silent grace by their pick-up. Johan feels torn and tells his wife he has to see Marianne,so she tells him to take the children to the dentists too.He engineers it so that a man looks after the kids in his camper van with it’s own TV set they can watch.He steals away and makes passionate love with Marianne for the last time.Marianne saying she is at her happiest and saddest since ‘Peace is stronger than love’ and expresses pity for Esther. In a bleak driving scene in the pouring rain Esther asks to get out to vomit.She runs from the car to a tree and breaks down holding it.She has a sense of loss:she used to be a part of everything,fully alive next to Johan.Now heartbroken,she dies of heart attack.She is next laid up in a coffin after being washed by her mother while her family say their last good-byes.The community sing mournful hymns.He talks to Marianne saying he’d do anything to turn back time.Marianne asks to see Esther and tears drop onto Esther’s cheek as Marianne kisses her.What follows is a kind of resurrection episode,but is probably metaphorical,a wish fulfilment happy ending. You can either reject or accept this ending but remember this has a religious setting.For me it works.

sylv

some beautiful moments but s.......o slow. Even when something happens, it seems to float rather than occur. Don't see it if you have other options.

sylv

some beautiful moments but s.......o slow. Even when something happens, it seems to float rather than occur. Don't see it if you have other options.

Lawford

I can see how some might feel this to be pretentious but it kept my interest throughout. Beautifuuly shot

Lawford

I can see how some might feel this to be pretentious but it kept my interest throughout. Beautifuuly shot

Roger McIntosh

Pure cinema. A transcendentally beautiful & moving film. When you're sick of irony & smartarsed narratives, check this one out. Not to everyones taste, obviously, but since when did facetiousness pass for criticism. Here's a camera mate, you have a go!

Roger McIntosh

Pure cinema. A transcendentally beautiful & moving film. When you're sick of irony & smartarsed narratives, check this one out. Not to everyones taste, obviously, but since when did facetiousness pass for criticism. Here's a camera mate, you have a go!

Miles

There were times during this film when I wasn't sure whether I liked it or not. But it's a slow burner and one of those films where you have to relax and go with it. By the end I was transfixed and the first and last sunrise/sunset scenes will stay with me for a long time. Defininitely one to see alone and enjoy reflecting on afterwards.

Miles

There were times during this film when I wasn't sure whether I liked it or not. But it's a slow burner and one of those films where you have to relax and go with it. By the end I was transfixed and the first and last sunrise/sunset scenes will stay with me for a long time. Defininitely one to see alone and enjoy reflecting on afterwards.

Clare

This film was very slow, had no emotional feeling, some of the acting was poor quality, mostly wooden and the film was too long. It could have been better in an hour and a half and with more passion and action.

Clare

This film was very slow, had no emotional feeling, some of the acting was poor quality, mostly wooden and the film was too long. It could have been better in an hour and a half and with more passion and action.

liamo

I wanted to like this but what I found was a pretentious, conceited, self-indulgent, laborious, humourless 136 minutes. A vanity project. But a memorable one in a strange way. And had I joined the people who walked out of the cinema I would have missed something - that feeling of having been duped by the ending.

liamo

I wanted to like this but what I found was a pretentious, conceited, self-indulgent, laborious, humourless 136 minutes. A vanity project. But a memorable one in a strange way. And had I joined the people who walked out of the cinema I would have missed something - that feeling of having been duped by the ending.

leo

I have seen it twice and i cant wait to see it again. I love each second of it

leo

I have seen it twice and i cant wait to see it again. I love each second of it

Nemz

This was a very slow movie; you waited for the punch line and it never happened. It was far too laboured.

Nemz

This was a very slow movie; you waited for the punch line and it never happened. It was far too laboured.