Another Silence: Film Review

Atmospheric Argentina-set thriller is short on suspense

Santiago Amigorena's artsy thriller is light on action and heavy on atmosphere.

A artsy thriller that’s light on action and heavy on atmosphere, Another Silence reps another intriguing yet frustrating foray into genre territory for screenwriter turned director Santiago Amigorena. Starring Marie-Josee Croze (Tell No One) as a grieving Toronto cop who travels to South America in pursuit of the man who murdered her husband and son, the film offers impressive visuals and a curious snapshot of backwater Argentine life, but lacks the suspense to reach far beyond festival and ancillary outlets following its Venice premiere and mid-Oct French release.

When the loved ones of Quebecois policewoman Marie (Croze) are gunned down in a drive-by shooting, she decides to take justice into her own hands, tracking the killer from the snowy streets of Toronto to Argentina’s arid Jujuy Province. There, Marie waits for the inevitable showdown with her target, a feckless street kid named Pablito (Ignacio Rogers) who was coerced into committing the murder by his drug-running uncle.

The opening reels, which cross-cut between Marie and Pablito on two separate continents, provide enough of a mystery to sustain the minimal suspense of Amigorena and co-writer Nicolas Buenaventura’s screenplay. But once the puzzle is assembled, and Marie embarks on her one-woman revenge trip, both she and the narrative wander off towards less-captivating directions, languishing too much in the desert until the inevitable showdown arrives.

It’s clear from both this and his first feature, A Few Days in September, that Amigorena (who scripted the upcoming sci-fi romance Upside Down, starring Kirsten Dunst) is less interested in traditional shoot-‘em-ups than in using the genre to explore the psychological ramifications of violence on various, unrelated characters. But by neither providing enough action to keep things moving, nor making the characters themselves altogether believable (Marie is much more convincing as a bereaving mother than she is as a tough cop), he doesn’t give the viewer enough to invest in for the long run.

If Another Silencene ever works as an outright thriller, it does offer up some striking images (courtesy of Lucio Bonelli, Phase 7) of one of Argentina’s most remote regions, situated on the borders of Chile and Bolivia, where narcotics and corruption seem to be part of the daily grind. Scenes between Marie and the area’s friendly or not-so-friendly locals manage to sustain interest along the way, even if they don’t add much to the story.

Croze gives an intense performance, but one that tends to remain on the same note. This is perhaps acceptable given she plays a mother suffering from the worst of tragedies, but her character offers little in terms of nuance, while Marie’s catharsis never feels like it’s been fully earned.

Folksy Latino score by Yves Desrosiers does justice to the sprawling desert vistas.

 

Opens: In France (Oct 19); Venice International Film Festival (Venice Days)
Production companies: Gloria Films, Les Films du Rat, Arte France, Max Films, Rizoma & Zarlek Producciones, Teleimage, Yellow Cab Studios
Cast: Marie-Josee Croze, Ignacio Rogers, Tony Nardi, Benz Antoine, Aaron Parry, Alison Louder
Director: Santiago Amigorena
Screenwriters: Santiago Amigorena, Nicolas Buenaventura
Producers: Laurent Lavole, Luc Vandal, Roger Frappier, Natacha Servi, Hernan Musaluppi, Luis Sartor, Patrick Sairetta, Jerome Merle
Director of photography: Lucio Bonelli
Production designer: Andre-Line Beauparlant, Ignacio Luppi
Music: Yves Desrosiers
Costume designers: Constanza Pierpaoli, Sophie Lefebvre
Editors: Veronique Bruque, Anita Remon
Sales Agent: Celluloid Dreams
No rating, 88 minutes

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