Beyond Silence

Newcity Chicago

DIRECTED BY: Caroline Link

REVIEWED: 06-15-98

(Jenseits Der Stille) Directed by Caroline Link. Don't be misled by the glamorous blonde in the poster. This film depicts the relationship between a child who plays a parental role and parents who possess childish obstinacy. Childhood resentment runs deep in "Beyond Silence," which follows the trials of a hearing daughter as she pursues a musical career amid the indifference and incomprehension of her deaf parents. The movie is actually two stories: the offenses that seem so harmless in the idyllic daze of childhood and the fruit these symptomatic seeds bear in adulthood. I preferred the first half, where we meet radiant, tousled little Lara, who is so well adjusted to her parents' handicap that she can still be a child, not a saint: rolling her eyes in exasperation at their public quirks and exploiting the communication gap for her own advantage during parent-teacher conferences. These scenes were worth the whole film to me, if only for their display of a modern Germany that never looked more intimate and cozy. Later on, Lara sprouts into a stringy, sullen German teenager and moves to dingy Berlin in the hopes of attending the conservatory. She is weary of parenting her own parents, always explaining and translating. And her father, who disapproves of her musical career, must resolve his resistance by confronting the family slights borne in his own youth. If the first half of the film draws the remarkable link between the vividness of childhood and the sensuality of deaf life, then the second half, in which Lara matures into the world of sound, is necessarily bleaker by comparison.

--Ellen Fox

Capsule Reviews
Beyond Silence

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