The Silence (Baran bo Odar, 2011)

What's it about? A young girl goes missing and her bicycle is found in the exact same place where another young girl was murdered 23 years previously, which brings back memories for several characters involved with that crime. Since the killer of the first girl was never caught, the police assume the cases are connected. But why the gap of 23 years?

Is it any good? It's okay. It has a strong, suspenseful set-up and is deliberately paced, letting words rather than action move the story along. Notably, this is not a whodunnit, as we know from the outset who is responsible and as the film proceeds we are invited to understand their motives, however disturbing they might be. Hence, the film strives to have a more thoughtful approach to the standard police procedural / serial killer content, examining the effect of the violent crime(s) on the people involved, an approach which is helped by the cool, detached direction throughout. For all this, however, it feels like a mini-series that has been squeezed into a two-hour running time, with a lot of characters and backstories jostling for position, with the result that none of them really get fleshed out satisfactorily. Mostly, though, the thing that lessened the impact of the film for me was that the whole film hinges upon the motive that connects the two crimes and when this revelation comes, I didn't find it very convincing. A pity because it is trying to do something a bit different with this sort of material, but doesn't quite pull it off.

Anything else I should know? Fans of Danish TV series The Killing will see strong similarities in the attempts to show the impact of the crimes on a range of characters. There are also parallels with the serial killer films Zodiac and Memories of Murder, the latter of which the director admitted as being a strong influence on this. It's not as good as any of those, though.

What does the Fonz think? Worth a watch, but not worth making a lot of noise about.

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