Director: Pat Collins
Starring: Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríde, Hilary O’Shaughnessy, Andrew Bennett
Release Date: July 27th
“I’m not here to collect stories. I’m here for a bit of silence”. This line, murmured by to the protagonist, played by Eoghan MacGiolla Bhríde, to a barman, captures much of the essence of upcoming Irish film Silence.
Directed by Pat Collins, this film depicts the journey of Eoghan, an introverted and reflective thirty-something-year-old, as he returns to Ireland after a fifteen year absence. A sound recorder by profession, Eoghan seeks to capture the sound of silence in the Irish countryside. Equipped with nothing but a furry, oversized microphone, he searches for the most remote places, free from man-made noise, to make his recordings.
As Eoghan travels around the Northwest of Ireland, gathering recordings from fields, mountainsides and rock-pools, the silence of his surroundings pushes him into deeper levels of reflection. Gradually, there is a shift in focus from the quiet of the environment to a more intangible silence. This is the silence brought on by years of emigration and the reality of modernity. The generations that have abandoned the native lands have left a legacy of emptiness. The sounds that once filled the houses and churches have been replaced by the echoing sound of the wind through holes in the shattered panes of glass.
Eoghan’s journey now takes a different course as he searches for the forgotten stories of the past and tries to understand how he has played a part in creating this emptiness.
At all times, Silence proceeds at a gentle pace. From the onset it captivates viewers with a visual spectacle that will leave cinematography enthusiasts as well as nature fans salivating. With only a smattering of dialogue in the first half, however, the film runs the risk of leaving viewers oblivious to the trajectory of the film. It is not until the second half that the pace accelerates slightly and the plot begins to reveal itself. That is not to say that the first half is not as engaging as the second. Indeed, from the very beginning, Silence will lure audiences into a blissful trance induced by the delicate close-ups of moss and long-grass and the soothing soundtrack of crowing corncrakes and babbling brooks.
Silence is a powerful piece of film and a credit to Irish cinema. It excels in being philosophical without being morose. Mac Giolla Bhríde gives a compelling performace and makes a flawless transition from perfectionist sound recorder to soul-searching pilgrim. He is brooding and detached but still manages a benevolence that endears the audience.
Nonetheless, the cinematography steals the limelight in this film. The detail and subtlety with which each scene is shot give the whole film an unmistakable polish of style. The Irish landscape is portrayed in a way that is no less than dazzling and even if this genre of film is not to everyone’s taste, anyone watching will appreciate the film just for that.
In a Nutshell: Well worth a trip to the cinema. An excellent piece of Irish cinema.