Much like when I first saw The Fairy back in 2012 I went into the screening of Silent Sonata with low expectations and had a completely wonderful experience. All I knew going into the screening was that I was about to watch a Slovenian film about war that had no dialogue and the side of myself that prejudges everything rolled its eyes and noted the 77 minute running time with relief. More fool me for deciding my level of enjoyment before seeing the film.
Silent Sonata isn’t really a film about war. Certainly not any war in particular. There is a war going on and in the opening scene devastation is unleashed on an isolated farmhouse but the film, helped by lack of dialogue, resists being tied down to any specific location or time. This war could be anywhere in the world in the past century.
Once the initial warfare has died down the farmhouse and its surviving residents are visiting by a passing travelling circus. The family and the circus performers form a tentative union and from there the plot gives way in favour of moments of surreal beauty and intrigue. The performers face down a tank through the medium of an acrobatic contest, a widower grieves for his wife, two children decorate the bodies of fallen soldiers, and the circus gives one stunning performance to their small audience. This is not a film that can by synopsised; it is a series of perfect, unique moments that have to be seen to be appreciated.
With no dialogue to distract or explain I found myself completely engrossed in the visuals, the music, and all other sounds. For a film like this to work you really have to give yourself over to it and despite my initial hesitation it wasn’t hard to be won over by the striking balletic performances and consistently surprising scenes. This really is a film that needs to be seen to be appreciated, this is perhaps why I am struggling to find the words to explain why I enjoyed it so much.
No film in cinemas is more inventive than Silent Sonata; this short and sweet Slovenian film has a global cast of circus acts and actors and deserves universal appeal despite its elusive description.
Silent Sonata is in UK cinemas from 9th May 2014.