February 21, 2005
Le Silence, 2004
An apprehensive Olivier (Mathieu Demy) inscrutably stands watch at an outpost on the side of a mountain, cursorily surveying the desolate topography with a pair of binoculars, waving to armed comrades situated on an adjacent clearing, checking the sight on his rifle...waiting for something to happen. The seemingly idyllic opening sequence of natural communion provides an insightful glimpse into the heart of the conflict as the chaos of shots fired and a faint rustling in the brush momentarily betrays his insecurity and allows a wild boar to escape into the wilderness. On holiday in his native village in Corsica, Olivier has returned with his fiancée (Natacha Régnier) to reconnect with his ancestral identity (perhaps resulting from an existential crisis brought on by his impending fatherhood), returning to the simpler life and camaraderie of the hunters who have continued to carry on the centuries-old tradition of his cultural heritage against the tide of inevitable depopulation (and vanishing way of life) in the dying village. Bound by the cultural code of self-reliance, rugged individualism, and independence, Olivier's moral allegiance is tested when he becomes an inadvertent witness to an act of cold-blooded murder. Orso Miret's sophomore feature is an elegantly shot and sincere, but thematically slight and ultimately superficial psychological portrait of guilt, conformity, and personal responsibility. Juxtaposing stylized, oneiric images that reveal Olivier's crisis of conscience against the naturalism of the region's harsh and unforgiving terrain (and further correlating the boar hunt as a social metaphor for natural law), Le Silence serves as a thoughtful exposition on instinctuality, character, and human resolve.