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Originally published March 28, 2013 at 3:00 PM | Page modified March 28, 2013 at 3:02 PM

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‘The Silence’: a haunting, mesmerizing German thriller

Filmed under deceptively sunny skies, the German crime thriller “The Silence” is a story about obsession, the permanence of loss and how deeds of the past continue to haunt.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie Review 3.5 stars

‘The Silence,’ with Ulrich Thomsen, Wotan Wilke Möhring, Katrin Sass, Burghart Klaussner, Sebastian Blomberg. Written and directed by Baran bo Odar. 119 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences (contains disturbing subject matter). In German with English subtitles. Varsity.

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Many kinds of quiet coexist in the hypnotic, mesmerizing German crime thriller “The Silence”: the hush of a field after a murder has taken place and the perpetrators have fled; the still bedroom of a child who will never come home; the aggravating calm of the life of a newly retired police detective still tormented by a long-ago unsolved case; the closed lips of a murderer, hiding secrets he’ll never tell. And the space between the words of a brief exchange between two people, both lost in grief: “When does it stop?” “Never.”

The debut feature from the Swiss-born writer/director Baran bo Odar, “The Silence” begins in 1986, as a young girl on a bicycle is brutally murdered (mostly off-camera; in this movie we imagine the horror more than we see it) in a golden wheat field. Fast-forward 23 years, and another girl is missing — with her bicycle found in the same field. As the investigation unfolds, with echoes back to 1986, we meet a troubled cast of characters. John (Sebastian Blomberg), a cop just returned to work after the death of his wife, struggles to keep his emotions in check. Krischan (Burghart Klaussner), the retired detective, pushes his way onto the case, because he can’t not do so. Elena (Katrin Sass) sees her daughter’s long-ago death all over again. A murderer fingers a knife, wondering what he’ll do with it.

“The Silence,” filmed under deceptively sunny skies, is a story of obsession, of the permanence of loss, of how deeds of the past haunt us, closing over our heads like water. It leaves you shivering, yet thrilled; waiting anxiously for this talented new filmmaker’s next work.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

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