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Is there any more ominous cinematic portent of doom than a carnival? Especially a carnival with a big scary clown head? First-time director Baran bo Odar knows full well there isn't, and uses one to great effect in his intriguing (and frequently icky) German-language crime film, The Silence. Dividing its time between police procedural and examination of grief, the film follows several characters affected by the killings of two young girls 23 years apart, including the pedophiles who committed the original murder, the families of the victims, and the police investigating the crimes, particularly the recently widowed David (Sebastian Blomberg). The cinematography is frequently lovely in a dank-and-depressing kind of way — especially given the tendency of the characters to mope in orange-curtained rooms — but the real bravura move is a nearly six-minute tracking shot involving no CGI and no trickery, just actors having to hit their marks while delivering rather intense dialogue, and it all works. Though not particularly violent, The Silence is gripping, and it skirts the edge of nihilism in its consideration of how even as technology evolves — from 8mm film to DVDs and laptops over the decades — those wondrous new devices can be used for the same old horrors.
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