Silence & Darkness – 2020
Anna is blind, Beth is deaf. As sisters they have learned to communicate and move through the world together. With their complementary disabilities they are symbiotic in the way they sense the world around them. Anna loves music, Beth loves gymnastics and through these activities they grow personally and together. Their relationship is poignant, and kind, but there is a shadow that looms over them.
Their father is a doctor that seems to have ulterior motives for the life that his family is leading. A patient that wants to sexualy gratify him, a neighbor that finds human remains on his property, unnamed medications that he forces his daughters to take regularly. The doctor is hiding something, and whatever it is, is dark as night.
This tense suspense thriller puts us alongside Anna and Beth, humanizing them through their relationship with each other and their responses to the hardships that their father forces upon them. They remain undaunted, and single minded, often working together as one unit. Through it all they discover the evils that their father has done, and do something about it.
Without falling too far into potential cliches, Silence and Darkness, is written and directed by debut filmmaker Barak Barka. This movie of quiet tension and stunning performances is the kind of movie that makes you pay attention and look forward to what comes next for Barka. It is a darling thing to make a movie that is so devoid of action still feel so intense. Every interrupted quiet moment, every shock, strikes the right note. This is the kind of debut that you would hope for from anyone.
These kind of cool, brightly lit, open spaces that the movie unravels itself in almost feel like eyes opening up on a diorama of a mystery. You will be glued to the film, waiting for what comes next, waiting to see how Anna and Beth will end it. That end is satisfying, just the way it should be.
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Credit – Doyle Daniels, Juan Muro, Gabe Llanas, Tim Huskey