The Look of Silence

Film Review by Ben Nicholson | 02 Jun 2015
Film title: The Look of Silence
Director: Joshua Oppenheimer
Release date: 12 Jun
Certificate: 15

The prospect of crafting a worthy successor to the phenomenal The Act of Killing is a daunting one, but with The Look of Silence, Joshua Oppenheimer has risen to the challenge. Although less formally daring than its predecessor, it proves the perfect companion piece, shifting from a wide-angle lens on the 1960s Indonesian genocide, to an intimate close-up. In the earlier film, the perpetrators basked in the camera’s limelight. Many now shift uncomfortably and defensively beneath its gaze, confronted with their crimes here by Adi, whose brother was murdered in the purge.

An optometrist, he goes door-to-door conducting eye-tests while attempting to combat the moral myopia of his brother’s killers. Complicity lives in the reticence – evoked in the title – that oft settles on proceedings, but is arguably the only sane response to indescribable barbarism. “The past is the past,” says one man. “I don’t want to remember.” Adi’s only riposte is his quietly crushing dignity, which forms the heart of this more personal film that is once again imperative and devastating viewing.

The Look of Silence open Sheffield Doc/Fest on 5 Jun

The Look of Silence is released in the UK by Dogwoof