Chicago Film Festival: Silent Light

Very hard to describe. Definitely an “art house” or “film festival” flick. Starts with a sunrise. That seemed to take approximately 20 minutes. Twenty minutes!! With nothing but the sun slowly lightening up the sky. No sounds but the wind and the birds and…maybe you can hear trees growing?

A lot of the movie is that silent. And that slow. And that ponderous. Not in a bad way. But definitely in a disconcerting way. I found my mind racing, racing, racing. Any scene with even a hint that disaster could happen had me imagining the wildest things…things that would never actually happen in this movie.

Technically the “action” of the movie is about a Mennonite farmer, with a wife and six kids, who has fallen in love with another woman. And struggles with how to go on from that moment. Although he stays with his wife, she ultimately dies (of a broken heart?)…but then there’s this one moment of magical realism at the end… Which was lovely, but a bit odd considering the very very NOT fantastical rest of the movie.

It was the opposite of, say, a three hour movie that feels like it only took 45 minutes. It was only a little over two hours, but oh sweet monkey sundae, I felt like I was in the theater for 25 years. Sitting in such utter silence, broken only by, say, the sound of someone’s feet walking through grass. Or walking on snow. Or occasionally having a very slow, very drawn out, very few sentences conversation.

Some of it was really beautiful. And the tension in it was very powerful, despite being such non-tense kind of tension. (Maybe you had to see it to even make any sense out of that sentence.)

But it was not an easy movie, on the mind. It totally wore me out. Consider yourself warned.