March 26, 2010

A Silent Love (Federico Hidalgo, 2004)

What’s most interesting about A Silent Love is its comical approach to its subject. As the director, Federico Hidalgo, himself admitted, there is much in common with that approach and the tongue-in-cheek of popular Mexican dramas. It was very refreshing to experience comedy that closely associated with drama. They say Aristotle wrote a follow-up to Poetics, his guideline for dramas, dealing with comedy; it is even mentioned in In the Name of The Rose (Jean-Jacques Annaud, 1986) where it is quickly lost forever in a library fire. Charlie Chaplin used his comedy to change society. Some new filmmakers, like Wes Anderson, manipulate the amount of comedy and drama in their films to beautiful results.

In A Silent Love, everything is borderline, in-between both art-forms, from the initial meeting between Gladys and Norman to the aftermath of the break-up and Gladys’ reaction to the news of André and Ana. In that perspective, the reception by the Mexican public – it was recalled by the director as relentless laughing – isn’t surprising.

The movie also uses ellipses to great effect. The critic Jacques Feyder once wrote, “In the cinema, the principle is to suggest." In A Silent Love, the ellipses suggest a passing of time, undefined, but also aid the filmmaker in setting up the following scene and its use creates, initially, a disorientation effect to the advantage of the viewer. Younger, my parents used to bring me and my brothers to the movies, but since we were always late, I was left trying to figure out, by piecing together dialogue and action, what had occurred in my absence. I’ve never enjoyed movies more than in this position where I’m left wondering and constructing my own stories based on the amount of information I’ve been given, and it was always a joy to later see the movie and realize how off-base or how right I was. Watching A Silent Love created the same kind of interest, not by what is shown but by what is not, the in-betweens, involving the spectator even more in the destiny of these characters.