Movie Review: The Look of Silence | One of Us

Movie Review: The Look of Silence

0 Submitted by on Wed, 09 September 2015, 10:00

Every so often documentaries will have follow pieces, rarely do those sequels prove to be more powerful than their predecessors. The Look of Silence, the 2014 successor to The Act of Killing, is one such film.

This time Joshua Oppenheimer directs the camera towards Adi, a man whose older brother was slain during the events chronicled in the first movie, as he confronts those involved in the Indonesian purging of communist in the late 1960’s. Because many of the participants in the slaughter are still in power Adi must maneuver carefully and in anonymity. Adi’s job as an optician provides the viewer a feeling of unease as he tests and prescribes glasses for a former death squad member while asking about their role in the slayings.


The even-tempered resolve of Adi to understand not only the acts but also the enactors of such horrendous violence is astounding. We see Adi as he is shown interview footage of those involved in the first film and as they recount their deeds and he is further compelled to understand their near flippant attitudes. Adi is given the chance to interview many of these people and more often than not keeps a level of composure that in itself is stunning.


An equally fascinating aspect of the movie is the former death squads’ members and facilitators. Once confronted by someone personally affected by their actions we see an array of reactions. For most it is indignation, for a few it is tearful pack-peddling, for all it is an avoidance of culpability. The argument that the actions of past are best forgotten is one that is echoed by perpetrator and victim alike, this dangerous opinion also serves as fuel for Adi’s resolve.


The Look of Silence is a brave look into the nastier side of humanity that is often glossed over. Artistically the film is one of minimalist presentation and serves to help convey it’s contents unfettered. The Look of Silence‘s ability to address not only loss but also endurance makes it necessary watching for a more complete picture of the human condition.

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Born in the wilds of northern Virginia, in 1992 Chris managed to put all of his survival skills to use and barely escaped with his life to Austin Texas, where ever since he’s dabbled in everything from plumber’s assistant to sandwich maker, from band to bar management. An opportunity to see theatrical release films for free, by becoming a critic on a local public access show called “The Reel Deal”, turned into a full time job when Chris and his friends decided to take it to the internet. They built the site Spill.com, adding multiple podcasts and animated features, to no small amount of success. During this time, a fortuitous friendship sprung up between Chris and young Brian Salisbury, who was also a local film critic, and they merged their forces of will, and their laundry list of ideas for shows, to eventually build this paradise you see before you.