Spanish helmer Jose Luis Cuerda ("The Butterfly's Tongue," "The Education of Fairies") adds another dud to his uneven track record with "All Is Silence," a juiceless adaptation of the Manuel Rivas novel that juxtaposes childlike innocence (a pet theme of Cuerda's) and drug trafficking on the Galicia coast. Though period detail is impeccable, the script, adapted by Rivas in his first outing as a screenwriter, fails to develop a dramatic undertow that ties the film's two incongruous halves together. Home B.O. might spark because of familiarity with the novel and thesps, but elsewhere projectors will stay silent.

Spanish helmer Jose Luis Cuerda (“The Butterfly’s Tongue,” “The Education of Fairies”) adds another dud to his uneven track record with “All Is Silence,” a juiceless adaptation of the Manuel Rivas novel that juxtaposes childlike innocence (a pet theme of Cuerda’s) and drug trafficking on the Galicia coast. Though period detail is impeccable, the script, adapted by Rivas in his first outing as a screenwriter, fails to develop a dramatic undertow that ties the film’s two incongruous halves together. Home B.O. might spark because of familiarity with the novel and thesps, but elsewhere projectors will stay silent.

“Silence” is set in 1969 and then 1989, when the late-’60s childhood friends find themselves on opposite sides of the law. Clever Fins (Axel Fernandez as a teen, Quim Gutierrez as an adult) grows up to become a narcotics cop, while his daredevil buddy Brinco (Sergio Gonzalez, then Miguel Angel Silvestre) becomes the right-hand man to a grimacing local crime lord (Juan Diego). Even the girl that stands between them (Carolina Cao; Celia Freijeiro) can’t manage to raise the stakes. Out-of-mothballs craft contributions are era-specific but further add to the pic’s soporific feel.

All Is Silence

Spain

Production

An Alta Classics release of a Castafiore Films, Milu Films, Foresta Films, Tornasol Films, Zebra Prods. production, in association with TVE, Canal Plus Espana, Television de Galicia, Agadic-Xunta de Galicia. (International sales: Latido Films, Madrid.) Produced by Gerardo Herrero, Antonio Saura, Carlos Rodriguez. Executive producer, Elisa Sandana. Directed by Jose Luis Cuerda. Screenplay, Manuel Rivas, based on his novel.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Hans Burmann; editor, Nacho Ruiz Capillas; music, Sergio Moure; production designer, Felix Murcia. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 18, 2012. Running time: 114 MIN.

With

Quim Gutierrez, Celia Freijeiro, Miguel Angel Silvestre, Juan Diego, Axel Fernandez, Carolina Cao, Sergio Gonzalez, Chete Lera, Iria Penha, Laura Ponte.

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