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Beyond Silence

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Beyond Silence

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An Academy Award nominee last year for Best Foreign Language Film, Germany's Beyond Silence tells the story of a bright young girl who is forced to act as the intermediary between her deaf parents and the outside world. As she grows older, the girl develops an intense passion for music, which causes a rift between her and her demanding parents. While Beyond Silence's plot makes it sound like dry, tedious arthouse fare, it's a tremendously rewarding movie that's surprisingly nimble and light on its feet. It's also one of the most gorgeous films to appear in a while: Everything in Beyond Silence is extravagantly, almost inhumanly beautiful, from its breathtakingly handsome family to its depiction of a Germany awash in glowing autumn and winter hues. If it weren't such a deftly executed, poignant piece of drama, Beyond Silence could serve as a J. Crew catalog come to life. But there is far more to the film than just its attractive surface; its examination of the complex dynamics between father and daughter, music and silence, and responsibility to family and responsibility to oneself is handled with an unsentimental craft that's as mature and thoughtful as it is beautiful. The cast is universally fine, but the two actresses playing the film's clarinet-playing heroine deserve special mention. Playing the protagonist as a young girl, Tatjana Trieb gives her character a feisty, battling intelligence without ever seeming cutesy or precocious, while Sylvie Testud, who won a German Film Award for her performance, is similarly winning playing the character as an adult. In a summer in which too many films are praised merely for not being Godzilla, a beautifully made, dramatically rich film like Beyond Silence is truly notable.