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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

A Silence (MA) - 101 minutes

A dark and dirty family secret explodes in A Silence.

 

Astrid Schaar (Emmanuelle Devos) has said nothing about the deeply troubling matter for 30 years, but a figure from the past triggers massive concern.

 

Astrid’s renowned, media-savvy lawyer husband Francois (Daniel Auteuil) has been fighting an incendiary, high-profile case for five years.

 

He represents the parents of two abducted children, with reporters camped outside his home eager to capture his every word.

 

Francois and Astrid are cocooned in a life of privilege and yet there is clearly tension between the couple … that dates back decades.

 

The pair has two children, grown up daughter Caroline (Louise Chevilllotte), who implores her mother to say something, and an adopted teenager son.

He, Raphael (Matthieu Galoux), has been wagging school and faces expulsion.

 

So, there are fires to be fought on several fronts and, ultimately, there is no escaping the bitter truth.

 

A disturbing drama from Joachim Lafosse, A Silence is a disquieting exploration of family, duty, complicity and coercive control.

 

What makes it even more shocking is that it was inspired by real events that outraged France and Belgium.

 

I was suitably appalled by what I saw unfolding, but my biggest criticism of the film comes down to the tortuously slow (I would say wallowing) and obscure start.

I understand that the filmmakers clearly wanted to stretch out “the big reveal”, but I dare say by the time it comes some of the audience may not have stuck around.

 

And that is a pity, because the story has real bite from that point on.

 

Mystery is one thing, but obfuscation is another and that is what I felt was happening, at first.

 

My sentiments weren’t helped by the darkness inherent in many of the scenes. Perhaps that was a theatrical device, but that too became frustrating.

 

Having said that, I would still like to recommend A Silence because as disgusting and scandalous a story as it is, it deserves to be told.

What gives the movie strength is the internalised acting performance of Emmanuelle Devos, as a woman who has endured so much.

 

Daniel Auteiul, too, is well cast as the suave and astute legal eagle carrying a massive burden.

 

Matthieu Galoux is quite believable as an aloof youngster with problems trying to find a way through.

 

So, please stick with A Silence because the payout for doing so does come, only it takes its sweet time to get there.

 

Rated MA, it scores a 7 out of 10.

 

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