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Silent City

Movie Details

Silent City
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Running Time: 87 min.
  • Director: Threes Anna
  • Cast: Laurence Roothooft, Ayako Kobayashi, Makoto Makita, Shinji Otani, Yukari Uekawa, Gen Shimaoka, Hubert Fermin, Kenichi Sano, Michihiro Koseki, Yosuke Kajima
  • Writer: Threes Anna
  • Distributor: Film Festival Flix
  • Official Site: Silent City Official Site

As if to demonstrate that the universe truly is infinite and every conceivable premise will eventually come into being, Threes Anna's Silent City is a fish-out-of-water tale about an actual fish cook. Somewhere on the Map of the Sounds of Tokyo/Lost in Translation spectrum, it follows a Dutch woman named Rosa (Laurence Roothooft) as she begins an apprenticeship with a world-renowned chef in Tokyo. The camera is often so close to our in-over-her-head protagonist that her experiences are as immersive a sensory experience for us as for her, and Roothooft, for her part, gives one of the more nuanced and vulnerable performances in recent memory; she maximizes nearly every scene's potential without overplaying a single one. She and Anna (adapting her own novel) accomplish this with minimal dialogue, English or otherwise, and much of the Japanese is not subtitled--another instance in which we're made to experience events as Rosa does rather than observe them from afar. (Or, to use the film's own metaphor, we're inside the fishbowl with her rather than tapping the side of it.) Silent City treats this language barrier not as a catalyst for cutesy scenarios in which smiles and laughter conquer all, but as exactly what it is: a division that makes almost every social interaction awkward and difficult. The series of moody non-events this leads to don't amount to much in a narrative sense, but they do prove rich in atmosphere and wholly authentic in their portrayal of the strange process by which we acclimate to new surroundings.

Michael Nordine

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