Travels With JB

Travels With JB

Travel news and reviews

A Silence (Un Silence) is, at times, a difficult movie to watch due to its subject matter.

From left: Daniel Auteuil (François Schaar), Matthieu Galoux (Raphael Schaar) and Emmanuelle Devos (Astrid Schaar) star in A Silence. ©Kris de Witte

At the same time, thanks to the true-to-life storyline and excellent work of its actors, it’s also thought provoking.

Set in Metz France, the movie tells of the relationship between wealthy, high profile criminal attorney François Schaar (Daniel Auteuil), his wife Astrid (Emmanuelle Devos) and their adopted teenage son, Raphael (Matthieu Galoux).

Emmanuelle Devos (Astrid Schaar) ©PalaceFilms.

It is based on the real-life case of Victor Hissel, a lawyer who represented the distraught parents of two of the children raped and murdered by serial killer Marc Dutroux. Hissel was subsequently charged with the possession and use of child pornography. The case shocked those living in France and Belgium.

A Silence starts with Astrid driving to the police station to learn Raphael has been charged with the attempted murder of his father. Over the next 100 minutes we gradually learn what led to Raphael stabbing Francois and it’s pretty shocking.

We quickly discover the family is under a great deal of strain as shown by the many reporters in the street outside their large palatial family home, awaiting Astrid’s return from the police station.

Daniel Auteuil (François Schaar).©Kris Dewitte

It seems the media has been there for a long time given Francois is representing the parents of young raped and murdered victims in a trial that has already lasted five years. The trial has clearly taken a huge emotional toll on Francois and his family but that’s not the only reason for the obvious stress experienced by all in the Schaar household.

We get a clearer picture why when the couple’s daughter Caroline (Louise Chevillotte), who refuses to visit her family,  tells Astrid that her brother Pierre has decided to go to the police about events that occurred between Francois and Pierre over 25 years ago.  Astrid tries to stop her brother doing this but he is determined, realising the effects Francois’ actions have had on his life.  At the same time the police are becoming more interested in the content of Francois’ hard drive.

As the movie progresses, we discover many more of the family secrets which again are most distressing. We also learn Astrid has been aware of many of Francois actions but has chosen to remain silent. The impact of that ‘silence’ is at the heart of the movie.

Matthieu Galoux (Raphael Schaar) ©Kris Dewitte

Thankfully none of the distressing nature of Francois’ crimes are shown during the movie. By avoiding sensationalism, director Joachim Lafosse and his co-writer ensure the movie is very much character driven. As a result, there’s extra pressure on the actors to show through their expressions, actions and words the impact of Francois’ crimes on all involved.

As A Silence is mostly told from Astrid’s point of view she’s required to carry most of the movie which she does believably in what must be a very draining role. Galoux is also extremely credible as a brooding, lonely and very confused teenager. A number of actors are said to have turned down the role of Francois, which again is a most demanding role. It’s easy to see why Auteuil is regarded as one of France’s finest actors.

While watching A Silence isn’t easy it raises a number of questions – the most basic being the impact of staying silent when you know wrongs have been committed by others.

A Silence opens in Australian cinemas on June 27.



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