3 stars out of 5
Personally I wasn't looking forward to seeing this, to be honest. I didn't have anything against the content of the movie itself, but it's a bit long (for me) and it looked like it was going to be one of those films that are very lush and spacious, yet very boring. I was kind of right in that it moves slowly and it's beautiful, but it is honestly more engaging than I gave it credit for, and I wasn't too bothered about having to sit through 99 minutes of period-piece girl's boarding school drama.
The general consensus from letterboxd viewers seems to be the same as mine: pretty, but a bit dull. It's got "watchability", but it's not that great in other areas. It has all the typical furnishings of any drama set in a girl's school: vague lesbian undertones, bullying, random acts of violence from girls who Just Can't Take It Anymore, scandalously strict teachers, rigid schedules, the whole lot. Things I don't even really need to explain because they're such common tropes. The difference in The Silenced is that there's also some sci-fi elements that really don't come out until the second half of the film, but their emergence onto the scene makes for something a whole lot more interesting.
Aesthetically it's perfect, not a hair or a stitch of clothing out of place. The cinematography is as tightly-controlled as the schoolhouse environment it depicts. It's also kind of nice to see an obvious lesbian relationship not be sexualized to the moon and back. It feels a little soft and uncommitted, however, and it would have been nice to see the two main girls be undoubtedly, vocally in love, but this is nice too. I just hope that the restraint on their relationship wasn't because the director/writer decided that making a gay romance set during this particular time period was too unrealistic. Gay people didn't just spring into existence in the latter half of the 20th century.
I think this is a good example of a film that bridges the gap between frivolous, fun, alone-in-your-bedroom viewing and the kind of cinematography that gets praised at festivals. The plot and the random foray into sci-fi/fantasy makes this feel mostly like something that would get relegated to Netflix (which it did), but visually it's arguably better than a lot of things that win prestigious awards. I like this because it defies genre labels, defies the dichotomy of high art vs. low art. It's a movie that can basically only be watched and enjoyed because you personally want to watch and enjoy it, if that makes sense.