Joachim Lafosse's Un Silence is a haunting exploration of the corrosive impact of family secrets, with a skilful blend of brutality, perversion and restrained elegance. A silence revolves around the Schaar family, whose carefully maintained facade of privilege and tranquility masks a deeply buried and unforgivable transgression that has festered over three decades.
The story unfolds as Astrid Schaar (Emmanuelle Devos) is summoned for an urgent conversation with an investigator, played by Jeanne Cherhal. The air is thick with mystery as the audience learns of a devastating incident involving Astrid's husband François (Daniel Auteuil) and their son Raphaël (Matthieu Galoux). Astrid, who alone has kept François' secret for thirty years, is forced to face the consequences as her family teeters on the brink of implosion.
What sets Un silence apart is its ability to convey a universal theme, namely that the silence maintained by a family's elders can have catastrophic consequences for the younger generation. The film delicately peels back the layers of bourgeois inclinations, exposing the tendency to hide dirty laundry and perpetuate guilt and shame across generations.
Joachim Lafosse uses an elegant, restrained approach, ensuring that the scandal at the heart of the film never descends into sensationalism. On the contrary, the characters - whether criminal, victim or media - are meticulously measured. The film lives up to its title by communicating deep emotions with a minimum of dialogue, relying on the eloquence of fleeting expressions captured by an unobtrusive camera.
The performances are the cornerstone of the film's impact. Matthieu Galoux, in his first appearance, becomes the moral compass, reflecting concern and righteous anger. Daniel Auteuil gives François a reptilian inscrutability, particularly chilling when he calmly acknowledges the support of his wife and son in the midst of his transgressions. Emmanuelle Devos, in the role of Astrid, emerges as an enigmatic figure, embodying the stoicism of women trapped in toxic relationships.
Beyond its captivating characters, Un silence raises some thought-provoking ideas. The film emphasizes the compelling need to hold those in positions of justice to account, highlighting the irony of individuals subverting the justice system while criticizing its failures. The film resonates across cultures, highlighting the fragility of seemingly respectable personalities and the consequences of family silence.
Joachim Lafosse masterfully navigates between revelation and suspense, creating a cinematic experience that is both darkly disturbing and artistically poignant. "A Silence" bears witness to the power of unexpressed emotions and the weight of long-concealed family secrets, inviting audiences to reflect on the societal implications of silence and the devastating impact it can have on individuals and their relationships.
Directed by Joachim Lafosse
Produced byAton Iffland Stettner, Eva Kuperman, Jani Thiltges, Antonino Lombardo, Régine Vial et Alexis Dantec
Written by Joachim Lafosse, Thomas van Zuylen, Sarah Chiche, Matthieu Reynaert, Valérie Graeven, Chloé Duponchelle, Paul Ismael
Starring Daniel Auteuil, Emmanuelle Devos, Matthieu Galoux , Jeanne Cherhal , Louise Chevillotte , Nicolas Buysse , Karim Barras , Larisa Faber, Baptiste Sornin, Shann Case , Massimo Riggi , Colette Kieffer , Elsa Rauchs , Jonas Wertz , Ismaël Michiels , Damien Bonnard , Magali Pinglaut , Laure Hemmer , Raphaëlle Bruneau
Music by Ólafur Arnalds
Cinematography : Jean-François Hensgens
Edited by Damien Keyeux
Production companies : Les Films du Losange, Prime Time, RTBF, Proximus, Stenola Productions, Samsa Film, Voo et France 3 Cinéma
Distributed by Les Films du Losange
Release date : January 10 2024 (France)
Running time : 99 minutes
Seen on January 12, 2024 at UGC Ciné-cité Les Halles