The Movie Waffler First Look Review - THE SILENT PARTY | The Movie Waffler

First Look Review - THE SILENT PARTY

the silent party review
A father and daughter seek revenge for a sexual assault.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Federico Finkielstain, Diego Fried

Starring: Jazmín Stuart, Gerardo Romano, Esteban Bigliardi, Lautaro Bettoni, Gaston Cocchiarale

the silent party poster

That most problematic of sub-genres, the rape-revenge thriller, has seen an unlikely revival in recent years as women filmmakers have stamped their POV on a type of movie traditionally made by and, let's face it, for men. Films like Violation, Revenge and Rose Plays Julie have all adopted the traditional rape-revenge format, but added clever subversions to the genre.

Initially it seems directors Federico Finkielstain and Diego Fried are set to do something similar with their Argentine thriller The Silent Party. For much of the running time it appears we're in for something along the lines of Michael Haneke's Funny Games, with the filmmakers causing us to question the bloodlust that fuels our desire for revenge narratives. Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli recently did likewise with Violation, a movie that made it clear that revenge only adds to a victim's scars. But The Silent Party ultimately reverts disappointingly to type with a final act that falls into genre cliches.

the silent party review

The setting is the sprawling estate of Leon (Gerardo Romano), who is set to see his thirtysomething daughter Laura (Jazmín Stuart) wed her fiancé Daniel (Esteban Bigliardi). It's clear that the assertive Laura takes after her father, and perhaps has inherited a degree of entitlement. Daniel on the other hand is a timid type, and the pair seem an unlikely match. When Laura attempts to initiate sex, Daniel refuses, causing her to storm off in a huff. It's an interesting touch, given we know what's coming later in the film, as it dares to show that it's not just men who can feel entitled to sex.

Strolling through the fields around her family's estate, Laura comes upon a "silent party" being held at a neighboring home. You know, one of those bizarre parties where everyone listens to the music through headphones rather than speakers. I've never understood the point of this - aren't parties supposed to be communal events? - but it makes for an interesting visual backdrop as Laura wanders through a group of millennials dancing to music neither she nor the viewer can hear.

the silent party review

One of the young partygoers, the handsome Gabriel (Lautaro Bettoni), makes moves on Laura, who gladly reciprocates, fuelled by a mix of alcohol, resentment for her future hubby and general horniness. In what plays like a nod to Straw Dogs, the consensual coupling between Laura and Gabriel turns into a non-consensual assault when the latter's friend Maxi (Gastón Cocchiarale) decides to join in.

If you've seen enough of these movies, you expect Laura to pull herself together and take violent revenge. It seems that's what we're in for when she heads home and takes one of her father's pistols, returning to the scene of the crime. Things take a twist when Leon and Daniel learn what occurred and decide to intervene. Leon wants to make those who attacked his little girl pay, while Daniel wants to leave it to the authorities to handle. When Daniel sees a video of Laura seemingly enjoying the company of Gabriel, he begins to doubt Laura's account, but he's overpowered by the forceful Leon and dragged along for an encounter that likely won't end well for all concerned.

the silent party review

It seems at this point that Finkielstain and Fried are giving us something different. Seeing the hot-headed Leon display more concern towards taking revenge than to the well-being of his daughter (neither he nor Daniel ever think that maybe they should take her to a hospital), as an audience we're no longer sure if we wish to see a traditional revenge narrative play out. It's clear that Leon's actions are only going to make things worse, and Laura initially seems to adopt this way of thinking herself. But what seems like something novel in this sub-genre - a female victim trying to stop her male relatives from taking revenge in her name - is soon dismissed as the final act sees things flip back around to the traditional idea of the victim enacting vengeance.

As it plays out to an obvious conclusion, The Silent Party wastes its early interrogation of the nature of revenge and begins to resemble a dozen other films of its type. There's much wandering through dimly lit woods, and the movie seems confused as to whose viewpoint it wants to present as it focusses heavily on Maxi's attempts to escape his fate. By the time it all wraps up with a beat lifted straight out of the Scream franchise, we find ourselves bemoaning a missed opportunity to further interrogate cinema's most disreputable sub-genre.

The Silent Party is on US VOD from July 12th. A UK/ROI release has yet to be announced.

2022 movie reviews