Review: ‘The Silence’

Given that underwhelming police thriller "The Silence" is technically a made-for-TV movie, it might not be counted against helmer Cate Shortland as yet another example of the dreaded disappointing sophomore follow-up. Although Shortland and lenser Robert Humphreys (who shot her promising debut "Somersault") throw some interesting shapes with the visuals, pic's main thesps have done better work elsewhere.

Given that underwhelming police thriller “The Silence” is technically a made-for-TV movie, it might not be counted against helmer Cate Shortland as yet another example of the dreaded disappointing sophomore follow-up. Although Shortland and lenser Robert Humphreys (who shot her promising debut “Somersault”) throw some interesting shapes with the visuals, pic’s main thesps have done better work elsewhere. Script is both far-fetched and banal. Already shown in Oz, “Silence” reaped a distinctly muted response from the industry in Toronto, and not much more about it is expected to be heard.

Suffering post-traumatic stress after a shooting, cop Richard Treloar (Richard Roxburgh) has been forced (highly implausibly) into curating an upcoming exhibition at Sydney’s police museum. While sifting through old crime scene photos from the ’60s, he becomes obsessed with the image of a woman (Ellouise Rothwell) who appears at the edge of several photos and was later murdered. He starts reinvestigating her case. Meanwhile, things grow rockier with Treloar’s squeeze Helen (Alice McConnell) while he becomes attracted to his new shrink (Essie Davis). Emily Barclay burgles whole scenes as Treloar’s cheeky assistant, but otherwise the pic’s a misdemeanor.

The Silence

Australia

Production

An Australian Broadcasting Corp., Film Finance Corp. Australia presentation of a Jan Chapman Films production, in association with the New South Wales Film and Television Office. (International sales: ABC Enterprises, Sydney.) Produced by Jan Chapman. Executive producers, Scott Meek, Miranda Dear. Directed by Cate Shortland. Screenplay, Alice Addison, Mary Walsh.

Crew

Camera (color/B&W, HDCAM), Robert Humphreys; editor, Scott Gray; music, Anthony Partos; production designer, Melinda Doring; costume designer, Emily Seresin. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 14, 2006. Running time: 104 MIN.

With

Richard Roxburgh, Essie Davis, Alice McConnell, Emily Barclay, Jennifer Hagen, Ellouise Rothwell.

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