With SILENT LIGHT, Mexican auteur Carlos Reygadas (JAPON, BATTLE
IN HEAVEN) delivers an extraordinary, transcendent meditation on
love and religion. To capture the innocence necessary to tell his
tale, Reygadas ventured to a Mennonite community in northern
Mexico, where the inhabitants live like relics from another era.
Rather than falsifying his world, Reygadas cast the film with
actual Mennonites who speak the German dialect Plattdeutsch, which
gives the film an even greater authority--and further establishes a
truly original tone. The story concerns Johan (Cornelio Wall Fehr),
who is in the midst of a major spiritual crisis. A devoted father,
and a husband to Esther (Miriam Toews), Johan has found himself
caught up in an affair with a waitress named Marianne (Maria
Pankratz). But his connection with Marianne isn't just a physical
one; he fears that he's fallen in love with her. The honest and
tortured Johan confesses to Esther, spurring a series of
cataclysmic events that will test his faith once and for all.
From the luminous opening shot--which is without question one of the most stunning opening shots ever committed to celluloid--it becomes clear that this is a much different film than Reygadas's last, the graphic and blunt BATTLE IN HEAVEN. While it appears that Reygadas was deeply influenced by Carl Theodor Dreyer’s ORDET, as well as the works of Terrence Malick, SILENT LIGHT is not merely a carbon copy of those films. It is the work of a visionary filmmaker who is challenging himself and trying to address genuinely deep human issues. Beautiful and profound, SILENT LIGHT is cinema at its most breathtaking.
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