Deliberately-paced movie that aims hard for transcendence, opening and closing with real-time sunrise/sunset scenes (beautiful, with a Last Days-paced creeping camera). Jay Kuehner in Cinema Scope: “It’s a staggering shot, marked not only by duration but by the howling of unseen animals, a collective primal roar that disturbs the scene’s serenity.”
I wish the person introducing at the High hadn’t named the film’s greatest influence (Ordet) because then I spent those long, slow shots (but not static shots – one memorable spinning scene tracks Johan’s truck driving in circles) wondering when someone would die and be resurrected. That would be sad Johan’s even-sadder wife Esther, who dies of a broken heart during a rainstorm. I was surprised that it’s Johan’s affair Marianne who touches Esther and summons her back to life.
However Silent Light eschews the kinetics of narrative, it is by conception not without dramatic stakes. Johan’s tear-streaked face communicates a sense of pain only in the knowledge that his newfound love could harn his wife and alienate his family, consequences which Reygadas leaves unexplored. Is this a result of the director’s immanent design? If so, it’s teasingly realized in a gorgeous sequence featuring Johan and family bathing in a natural pool, the camera adhering to the children’s simple gestures as if nothing more important existed to them outside the moment – and likewise to the film outside the frame. It’s a scene of self-succifiency that produces meaning only in context with others, which bestow upon its small familial utopia a threat of impending loss. That’s enough to make a grown man cry.