“Silent Light” opens with a slow, beautiful shot of a dawn, not exactly a sunrise, but the land gaining light, becoming visible and full of color, and it ends with a twin shot, this time of twilight. They establish the mood of the movie, one of reflection. beauty, and melancholy.
Set amongst Prussian Mennonites in Northern Mexico, “Silent Light” is about as far off the beaten path as one can get. And yet the plot is surprisingly banal – a married man, Johan, is having an affair with another woman, while still committed to his wife and family, or at least heartbroken at the prospect of hurting and disappointing them. His religion doesn’t seem to offer him any help or insight; he has the same conversation with his father that men in his situation always have, at least in the movies – wondering if he might be happier with the other woman, and how much pain that happiness is worth, in the long run.
Directed by Carlos Reygadas, “Silent Light” is slow, incredibly beautiful, sad, and pensive. The characters spend most of their time pondering the mess they’re in, until Johan’s wife just can’t take it any more. The movie ends oddly; a miracle appears to follow a tragedy, but nobody acts like it’s a miracle, and then the sun sets.
Reygada clearly has a great deal of talent, and a desire to make unique movies. This one has great moments, no doubt, but in the end, though “Silent Light” certainly looks different, its feel is a lot like every other movie about infidelity and heartbreak.