Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Movies about People with Hearing Impairment

Beyond Silence

Silence is indeed golden in this sensitive and insightful film from Germany, a nominee for this year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. From the time she was a little girl, Lara (Sylvie Testud) has been more than just a dutiful daughter: Born to deaf parents, Lara, who can hear, has been the vital link connecting her father and mother (Howie Seago and Emmanuelle Laborit) to the outside world. Lara is naturally close to her parents, but begins to find their dependency stifling as she grows older. And she worships her father's sister, Clarissa (Sibylle Canonica), a talented clarinetist who introduces her niece to the world of music -- a world from which her parents are utterly excluded. When Lara turns 18, Clarissa encourages her to go and study clarinet at the conservatory in Berlin, leaving Lara faced with a difficult choice between familial responsibility and personal freedom. The fine acting alone is enough to recommend this film (Testud is nearly perfect, and Tatjana Trieb, who plays Lara as a child, is just as good), but what's truly extraordinary are the ways director Caroline Link uses the absence of speech to enhance the film's beauty: Much of the dialogue is signed, with movement and gestures replacing spoken words in what often resembles a graceful pantomime. The rest of film is just as splendid to watch: Link and cinematographer Gernot Roll Bvk have set this story in which music plays a key role to an arrangement of light and color that everyone in the audience can thoroughly enjoy, regardless of individual abilities.

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