(*homocinematically inclined)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Reverend’s Reviews: Foreign Visions


Before the summer movie season gets underway with this weekend’s release of Pain & Gain (which features the hunky dream pairing of Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and the arrival of Iron Man 3 next week, check out these current foreign releases.

Australian director Cate Shortland’s previous, debut film Somersault (2004) was a critically-acclaimed exploration of a young girl’s sexual awakening.  In her new film, Shortland explores a teenager’s moral awakening.  Newcomer Saskia Rosendahl gives a riveting performance as Lore (short for Hannelore), the eldest of several siblings left to fend for themselves at the end of World War II when their Nazi parents are arrested by allied forces.  As the children make their way through the ravaged countryside and villages toward their grandmother’s house with the help of a young Jewish man (The White Ribbon’s Kai Malina), Lore develops her conscience as well as her libido.  Unflinching but thoroughly engrossing, the film provides a rarely depicted look at the Holocaust’s other innocent victims.  Adapted from the lauded novel The Dark Room, it also boasts beautiful cinematography by Adam Arkapaw (Animal Kingdom).
Reverend’s Rating: B+

The Silence
A generally well-made yet disturbing psycho-sexual thriller from Germany.  In the summer of 1986, a young man named Timo (Wotan Wilke Moehring, giving a very good, haunted performance) watches his best friend, Peer (a creepy turn by Ulrich Thomsen) rape and murder a teenaged girl.  They hide the body and Timo soon goes his separate way, much to Peer’s disappointment.  23 years later, another girl is murdered in the same location on the same date as the first.  Is it a coincidence, the work of a copycat killer, or is Peer trying to lure Timo back?  While Timo searches for his own answers, the detectives on the case include a widowed officer who occasionally wears his dead wife’s dresses.  Though The Silence struck me as truthful regarding how parents deal with the loss of a child, other script elements — such as a pregnant policewoman being sent alone to question a suspect in his home — strain credibility. Nonetheless, neophyte writer-director Baran bo Odar is a talent to watch.
Reverend’s Rating: B

Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest, Rage Monthly Magazine and Echo Magazine.

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