Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Beyond Silence

Caroline Link, 1996, Germany (8.5*)
Director Link's first film, and a very good debut film as it won 10 international awards at various film festivals, and garnered a nomination as best foreign language film, an award Link later won in 2002 as director of Nowhere in Africa.

This is a very unique family film, as Lara, wonderfully played when older by Sylvie Testud, who won one acting award for her role, is born to deaf-mute parents, and grows up in a world of silence, as she communicates to them using sign language. Her aunt Clarissa, a beautiful readhead played by Sibylle Canonica, is a clarinetist and catalyzes Lara's interest in music by giving her the first clarinet she owned as a child for Christmas. Lara quickly takes to the instrument, which gives her rather drab life something meaningful.

Her dad, well played by Howie Seago, has been at odds with music since childhood, as his sister often played with their dad, who played piano, leaving the deaf child out of the interaction, so he prefers a house of silence. This drives Lara to seek a music education in Berlin, where she moves at the invitation of her aunt.

This is a beautiful story, without histrionics or sentimentality, something rare in films of this nature. Link always shows a deft touch in daughter-parent relationships, something she explored again in Nowhere in Africa. This is a very rewarding, touching story of a young girls coming-of-age amid harsh circumstances.

Awards page at IMDB

Note: if you like this film, be sure to see Chen Kaige's Together, about a young virtuoso violinist in China and his father, who will go to any length to see his son succeed in music.


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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