Silent Land

Silent Land ★★★

[TIFF #13] Visually, this might be the most beautifully composed film I’ve seen at the festival so far. Certainly it’s the most meticulous. Even when the characters are doing nothing, the camera is consistently communicating something about their relationship and state of mind. God, I wish I could love it rather than merely respect it.

Coming only 24 hours later, this naturally made me think of BERGMAN ISLAND: a couple on vacation in an idyllic place, a high concept that obscures their motivations, conveying to us obliquely what can’t be said outright. But where Hansen-Løve imbues her characters with an infectious warmth that keeps us “understanding” even when we can’t explain a thing, Woszczyńska seems content to keep them at arm’s length. I never really get the sense that I understand who these people are, beyond the Big Themes they represent. Sometimes that sort of formal chilliness is useful and necessary, but here it feels like the absence of something the story demanded.

Still, the skill at play here is undeniable, and I’m excited to see what Woszczyńska does next. If she manages to pull 1/10th the meaning from her actors as she does from pure composition, she’s going to be a force to be reckoned with.