Friday, April 15, 2011

Stellet Licht (Silent Light)

I'm admittedly a shallow movie viewer.  This is one of those movies that makes me ask, am I really shallow, or was that a dull movie?

Here's where the weirdness begins for Stellet Licht.  This was the Mexico official entry for the 2008 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film (it didn't end up being nominated).  So why isn't it called Luz Silenciosa?  Because the movie's not in Spanish, silly, that would be too simple!  It's in Mennonite Low German, a sort of German/Dutch hybrid spoken in some Mennonite communities around the world. 
A plus of the movie is a realistic depiction of the life of rural Mennonites in Mexico.
Stellet Licht focuses on a Mennonite family living in a Mexican Mennonite community.  The dad is having an affair and struggling with family life.  There are just enough lingering shots and odd elements here to make me think, hmm, this is sort of poetic, and maybe there is some profound symbolism here.  But it wasn't compelling enough to make me want to carefully rewatch it and analyze it.  Plus, the absurd ending seemed quite out of place, throwing the value of the whole movie into question.
There is barely enough material here to fill a 1/2 hour TV slot, but the director drags it out over 2 hours.  Long, lingering shots of nature (like 6 minutes of dawn breaking at the beginning) and long scenes with people sitting around not talking do that to a movie.  If you've had a long day, be sure to have a cup of coffee before you sit down for this one.  There, do I sound shallow enough for you?

Bottom line, 1 1/2 stars.

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