Silent Light (15)

Written and Directed by Carlos Reygadas
Screening at FACT from 5th-10th January 2008

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

This is a visually appealing, poetic and meditative film, by the highly talented Mexican director Carlos Reygadas.

It opens with a hypnotic seven-minute sequence of the Mexican landscape in which nighttime moves into early dawn and then daybreak.

Silent Light finishes in an equally mesmerising manner, with a five-minute sequence of a beautiful sunset.

Set in the Chihuahua region of the country within the minority Mennonite community, a religious movement which is noted for its simplicity of life, the story of the film is about adultery and the anguish and torment suffered by those directly affected by it.

Johan (Cornelio Wall Fehr) is married to Esther (Miriam Toews), and they are the parents of six children, but he is having an affair with another woman Marianne (Maria Pankratz), a situation which goes completely against his religious beliefs.

Esther is aware of this but boldly carries on looking after her family despite the hurt she feels inside at the betrayal by her husband.

This repression of her torment boils to the surface with deadly consequences near the end of the film.

This is a very slow paced movie - reflecting the style of life carried out by the characters, all adeptly played by non-professional actors - containing, as well as the opening and closing sequences, a number of wonderfully conceived lingering shots of nature.

With the end of the film seemingly destined to end in a particular way, there is a very surprising twist which beggars disbelief or maybe not.

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