Silentium (2004)

Silentium
Director: Wolfgang Murnberger
Writer: Wolfgang Murnberger, Josef Hader, Wolf Haas
Based on: Wolf Haas‘ novel
Sequel to: Komm, süßer Tod
Cast: Josef Hader, Simon Schwarz, Joachim Król, Maria Köstlinger, Udo Samel, Jürgen Tarrach, Rosie Alvarez, Georg Friedrich, Johannes Silberschneider, Karl Fischer, Herbert Fux, Dirk Stermann, Christoph Schlingensief, Wolf Haas
Seen on: 23.7.2015

Plot:
Simon Brenner (Josef Hader) now lives in Salzburg where he barely gets by with occasional jobs, the most recent of which – store detective – he promptly loses when he accuses the daughter of the director of the Salzburger Festspiele, Konstanze (Maria Köstlinger). Never mind that he was right. But Konstanze and Brenner are not done with each other yet: Konstanze’s husband recently died, believed to be a suicide. But Konstanze is sure that he was murdered because he spoke up about the sexual abuse he suffered from catholic priests when he was a child. She asks Brenner to investigate. Brenner agrees, going about it in his own very idiosyncratic way and uncovering much more than he bargained for.

Silentium is an improvement on the first film in the series in pretty much every aspect, except maybe acting and sense of humor which were already great in the first film and are equally great now. I enjoyed it a lot.

silentium

[SPOILERS]

When the film starts, you think you know where things are going. It is not the first film about catholic priests assaulting children and the cover-ups that ensue after all. But just a little bit into the film, there is a change of story, moving from institutionalized cover-ups of disturbed, but lone perpetrators to actual institutionalized violence that is not limited to little boys – which I found fascinating. And it all leads to a frustratingly realistic ending that made me want to tear my hair out.

It was also interesting to get a protagonist in Brenner who is actually poor without any of the stereotypes that come with being poor: Brenner isn’t uneducated, he is smart,  he has worked all his life, even though he uses too much alcohol and probably too much weed, mostly to self-medicate his migraines. But after the loss of his job in the police, he hasn’t quite managed to get back on his feet. And when he loses his job, he ends up homeless within days – that’s how precarious his situation is. And that adds another layer of economic criticism to the story that is unusual in that it’s not told from the perspective of somebody who is sympathetic to poor people, but who is actually poor himself.

silentium1What I didn’t like about the film, though (which is also the only aspect where the film sucks equally as much as the first film), is its treatment of women. Mostly the women in it are victims, with the exception of Konstanze, who comes pretty close to the classic femme fatale stereotype and Di Ding (Rosie Alvarez) [whose name is a racist pun], who is actually pretty awesome but who has to pay for her agency and her self-reliance with her life. [At least she got to sleep with Georg Friedrich first.] And of course, Brenner gets an obligatory female trophy at the end.

But apart from that and the inclusion of watersports, which is so not my thing, I really enjoyed the film with its trademark sense of humor (including one of the best car chases ever and a Passion of Brenner moment where he actually gets to carry a cross) and a great ensemble cast. They even reduced the voice over – a definitive step forward. I’m very much looking forward to the other two films in the series.

silentium2Summarizing: Pretty great.

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2 thoughts on “Silentium (2004)

  1. Pingback: Der Knochenmann [The Bone Man] (2009) | kalafudra's Stuff

  2. Pingback: Das ewige Leben [Life Eternal] (2015) | kalafudra's Stuff

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