The Movie Waffler New Release Review (DVD/VOD) - SILENCIO | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review (DVD/VOD) - SILENCIO

silencio film review
In Mexico's 'Zone of Silence', a scientist discovers a stone that can enable time travel.

Review by Benjamin Poole

Directed by: Lorena Villarreal

Starring: Melina Matthews, Rupert Graves, John Noble

silencio film poster

For a film which relies on such soft moments, highlighting the sad sufferings of loss and the quiet dignity of carrying on, Silencio don’t half start off noisy. There’s rattling newsreel footage (I wonder what the future equivalent of this go-to expository device will be: screengrabs? Hashtags?) of Mexico’s very own ‘Bermuda Triangle’, La Zona del Silencio, which, as Wikipedia informs me, is a place of spooky urban legend "where radio signals and any type of communications cannot be received" - yikes! A right racket is then caused when we see an (actual factual irl) 1970 U.S. missile test go tits up, with the warhead crashing into the desert, contaminating it with radioactive ‘cobalt 57’ - more yikes! The film only settles down when a couple of scientists are posted to do some science in the dodgy province, which begins the meditative action following the prologue’s cacophony.

silencio film review

Silencio then slips into the elegiac, pensive tone which will come to characterise this interesting and special time-travel film. Following a subtle indication that one of the scientists is in mourning for an unspecified tragedy, it then transpires that the two boffins find a powerful stone, which, it turns out, has the power to manipulate time (maybe it fell out of Thanos’ glove amirite, etczzzz). Our boys are accidentally transported to a different point in time: the exact moment when James’s (John Noble) family is involved in a car crash, which only his grandchild Ana survives. Thing is though, little Ana avoids being run over only because she spots her grandfather and runs to him… Paradoxes, explosions, devastation (and a turtle): all in the first 10 minutes! We then cut to a few decades later, where Ana is all grown up and played by Melina Matthews, and James is now catatonic, happily staring into the future/past unknown, his poor old brain box fried by the timey wimey madness.

silencio film review

What writer/director Lorena Villarreal does with her debut feature is that trick I love; when films apply specific genre tropes (in this case Sci-Fi) to a different style of film (melodrama here) to create something which feels, if not completely unique, then deeply felt and distinct. Ana is a single mother, working as a psychologist while also tending to her dear old Pop-pop. One of her clients thinks he can see ghosts, and he informs her that her little sister is trying to make contact to warn her of something from the other side. Rupert Graves turns up as the modern iteration of the other scientist in the desert and perfects his posh-fella-looking-confused schtick. And not least, the client who can see ghosts has a beautiful Lassie dog, too. There is a lot going on here, and Villarreal organises these disparate, imaginative and, yes, potentially hokey details in a way that feels human and utterly convincing.

silencio film review

The ending sees a return to the explosive tone of the opening, with scenes that are violent and upsetting, and horribly unexpected. The eventual villains of Silencio may be easy to spot, but their motives are not so easily dismissed, and in the final act the film brutally challenges notions of love, morality and familial responsibility. Fittingly for a film which is predicated upon reliving particular moments, I’m already looking forward to seeing this little gem again.

Silencio is on DVD/VOD May 14th.

2019 movie reviews