"Silent Fall" is a pretty unremarkable thriller from "Double Jeopardy" director Bruce Beresford. The plot involves a young boy who can not speak who witnessed the murder of his parents. The film has a number of good performers, but begins to seriously test the patience of the audience with a buildup that doesn't really develop much of anything.
The boy's name is Tim, and he is looked after by his sister Sylvie(Liv Tyler, who has definitely improved since this, her first performance). The psychologist who helps them is Jake Rainer(Richard Dreyfuss); his competition is a less than kind doctor played by John Lithgow, who proposes more harsh treatment.
I can understand a film that paces out information deliberately; "Silent Fall" is so unbearably slow that I lost interest in the film early on. Pacing is fine, but please, eventually get to the point. Certainly there is a fine cast assembled, but they go wrong in one way or the other. Linda Hamilton recieves a minor, poorly written role as Dreyfuss's wife; Liv Tyler is a good (sometimes very good) performer now, but "then" is a bit of a different story. Akiva Goldsman shows that, again, the only decent film he's had a hand in writing is "Deep Blue Sea". Characters here are underwritten and unsympathetic; dialogue isn't engaging and scenes don't serve to move along the plot.
If that's not enough, the movie becomes completely silly towards the end and then totally falls apart as it becomes a totally oddball thriller with some weird twists. Thriller or not, "Silent Fall" remains a pretty slow moving film, and a weakly written one. Although he has done a couple of other not-too-great films in the past, I'm still suprised that a director like Beresford picked this one.
VIDEO: There's a positive and a negative to the final product of "Silent Fall", in terms of visual quality. The positive is that the film frequently shows some beautiful scenery that looks good on this DVD. The negative is that there are some noticeable problems with the transfer.
The negatives out of the way first: pixelation, some grainy sequences, and problems with the print used. Pixelation is not major, but there are trace amounts now and then. Print flaws are noticable at times, and include some minimal-to-mild marks on the print used. Some scenes look grainy; again, this is not a constant, but slightly distracting at most.
Detail is good, but not great; there are some scenes that look fine, but dimly lit or dark scenes look slight murky and undefined. Clarity could be better now and then, as some scenes begin to look a tiny bit hazy. Sharpness is also imperfect, with most scenes looking at least slightly soft. Colors are nice, looking well-saturated and solid. It's just not very consistent, with some outdoor sequences looking pleasing and other scenes looking fair or average.
This is watchable, but it's not wonderful. Seeing as the movie is only from 1994, I'm suprised it doesn't look better.
SOUND: As pretty much a dialogue-driven drama, "Silent Fall" doesn't provide much of an audio experience. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio comes mainly from the front, and focuses on the dialogue. Surround use is subtle and mainly not too noticable - minor background sounds and the score on occasion. The musical score sounds fine, but doesn't make much of an impression. Dialogue is clear and natural sounding.
MENUS:: A slight animated clip opens the main menu, which also has slight animation. I will say this about DVDs released for Morgan Creek titles; they give a solid effort on the menus for even the smallest title.
EXTRAS: Trailers for "Incognito", "Pacific Heights", "True Romance".
Final Thoughts: Blah movie, not-too-great DVD. Skip it.
The Film D
Video 78/C = (312/400 possible points)
Audio: 82/B = (328/400 possible points)
Extras: 76/C = (228/300 possible points)
Menus: 80/B- = (160/200 possible points)
Value: 80/B = (240/300 possible points)
FILM GRADE: D
DVD GRADE: C+