Silent Sonata – review
Director: Janez Burger
Duration 77 minutes (Slovenia)
Anonymity provides a universal import in Silent Sonata, a film by Slovenian writer/director Janez Burger.
Set in a nameless Balkan country, the audience is dropped into the universe of a farmer and his family. Unfortunately for him, his wife has just been shot. She passes. Shortly after, as the newly widowed husband and his children mourn her loss, trucks plough onto his premises. It is the middle of the night. In a blind panic, the farmer picks up his rifle, hides his children and heads out to meet the invaders. Instead of being a source of conflict, however, he discovers that they are a benign presence in the form of a travelling circus.
Containing no dialogue, Silent Sonata is a sedate, thoughtful film only occasionally punctuated with any conventional drama. In terms of tone and style, it feels like a hybrid of Bela Tarr’s portentous (but wonderful) The Turin Horse (2011), Ben Wheatley’s A Field In England (2013) and Ingmar Bergman’s unnamed war torn/ravaged landscape in Shame (1968).
It’s not always successful and, at times, it feels like an idiosyncratic exercise from a wilfully abstruse auteur. The film sometimes suffers from the self-imposed constraints of being dialogue-free. Yet also, frequently, there is a curious spellbinding wonder that raises its head. Janez Burger is a deft hand at creating some real visual poetry; Silent Sonata forces you to think who and what we are if the hum of conversation is stripped away. How loud do our actions speak when placed on the Spinal Tap meter of life? What is the reductive net sum of our motives when the articulation of verbal explanation is rendered obsolete?
A thoughtful film that drifts both in and out of focus in a hazy and beguiling fashion.
Silent Sonata will arrive in cinemas on 9th May 2014.
Here is the trailer: