The Silence (Das Letzte Schweigen)

The Silence is a carefully made and often quite gripping drama from Germany that reminds me quite a lot of the multi-part one-off crime serials you sometimes get running at 9pm on the BBC: Five Days, Criminal Justice, slow, sombre, delicately unfolding stuff like that. The film starts by showing the rape and unintentional murder of a young girl in 1986 – not in graphic detail, but it’s dwelt on enough to stick unpleasantly in the memory – before cutting forward to 2009, when a seemingly identical crime takes place in the same location. The viewer gets the points of view of all the relevant parties: the perpetrators, who are depicted as troubled rather than evil, the families of the victims, and the police officers investigating the murders, who include most of the stock character types one might expect to find in this type of piece: one is experienced and irascible, one is officious and unimaginative and one is fragile but brilliant. Despite the familarity of the genre and one or two gratuitous impressionistic sequences intended to convey the inner torment of certain characters The Silence is well worth a look, if only for the sympathetic portrait it draws of the man at the centre of the mystery, who is struggling to lead a good life despite his unsavoury impulses.

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