Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Look of Silence - 7 stars out of 10

The Look of Silence - 7 stars out of 10

"The Look of Silence" is the second documentary by Joshua Oppenheimer with regard to the Indonesian Killings of 1965-66.  It's a tough sell because it presents the same information as "The Act of Killing" but in a less thorough way.  It's interesting to tackle this chapter in history through a personal narrative since the main character is emotionally invested due to the direct effect of these killings on his family.  He is an ophthalmologist and uses his profession to question each of his brother's killers under the guise of giving the individuals an eye exam.  It is an extraordinary circumstance, for this man to interview the killers without them realizing their hand in his brother's death.  Each killer demonstrates the remorselessness seen in “The Act of Killing” as, even once they realize that they were responsible for killing his brother, they continue to defend their actions and heartlessly justify the mass killings.  It is similar in tone and content to its predecessor but is less poignant because there is no moment of regret experienced by the killers.  All of the emotion comes from the victim.  Those emotions create a lot of empathy but it would be more powerful to see a transformation in the wrongdoers as they accept what they have done.  The film is not as captivating as “Amy” but manages to keep pace with the bold risks taken by “Winter on Fire” and “Cartel Land.”  Its crew stands in the face of danger as the anonymous main character and videographer confront some less than savory ex-soldiers.  “The Look of Silence” works as a nice supplement to “The Act of Killing” by relating the action of several murderers to a specific victim but it isn’t a strong enough standalone documentary to take down “Amy” for the Oscar.

[Pictured; The lack of remorse in the interviewees is disturbing]

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