Saturday, July 5, 2014

Silent Witness (2013) New York Asian Film Festival 2014

Silent Witness is a grab you by the throat murder mystery/courtroom thriller that has you on the edge of your seat until the very last minute. It’s a film that is constantly flipping and reflipping to the point that you won’t know what is what until the last frame.

The film opens at the trial of a young woman for murder. It seems that she’s killed her millionaire father’s girlfriend. And since the dead woman was a popular singer the media is all over the case. I would like to tell you more but then I would be revealing too much especially considering the trial ends not in the way anyone expects in the first of a long series of twists. Actually they’re not twists so much as revelations as we shift to different points of view.

The film is the right kind of slick, using it’s tricks to flip us back and forth through the narrative and reveal to us all the details of the mystery. It’s not a lie to say that much of the power of the film is the flashy filmmaking which sucks us in at the start of the film so that the story will be able to get our hooks in us. Once it’s up and running the gimmicks move us from place to place and person to person speedily and logically. In any lesser film the whiz bang tricks would be employed to hide a lack depth and plot holes, here they are simply moving things along in such a way that we’re not allowed time to breathe.

The cast, full of stars  is spot on top to bottom. While many are required to seem stoic and stone like in their court room confrontations they all manage to let you know there are hearts beating in their chests. If you watch their eyes or look for little tells you can clearly see that things happening around them are affecting them and their composure. Their body’s may say all is fine but their eyes show blind panic.

What’s really great about the film is that it takes what we in America is a well-worn genre, the court room thriller, and spices it up with some decided non-American twists. Where things go and how they play out are not the ways that an American studio would have done it. They would never have allowed things to go so “meaningfully”. I’m not sure that the best word- there is a better one but to use it would clue you into where the film is going once something is said.

This is a great film. No better, this is a great popcorn film. This is one to go see in a theater and watch with a big thing of popcorn and some soda and seat with a padded edge (You won’t need the seat back) Go see this when it plays tomorrow at Lincol Center

The film plays tomorrow at the festival for more details and tickets check the festival website.

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