The Silent Party (2019)

Rating: C-

Dir: Diego Fried, Federico Finkielstain
Star: Jazmín Stuart, Esteban Bigliardi, Gerardo Romano, Lautaro Bettoni
a.k.a. La Fiesta Silenciosa

It’s messy. Nothing in this dramatic thriller is exactly clear-cut, from the beginning where we need to figure out the specific nature of the relationships at its core, through to an ending which is simply a cut to a black screen, with perhaps the biggest issue left entirely unresolved. There are times when such an approach can work; I would not say this is one of them. We begin with Laura (Stuart) and Dani (Bigliardi) on their way to the ranch belonging to her family, where they will be wed. Her father, Leon (Romano), is already there, taking care of arrangements.

From the start, it’s questionable how much agency Laura has: her driving is the subject of demands from Dani, while Leon has made unsolicited changes to the wedding plans. Fed up with it all, she goes out for a walk, and stumbles into a silent rave being held by a young, attractive neighbour, Gabo (Bettoni). Hours later, she staggers back to the ranch, apparently having been the victim of a sexual assault. She grabs her father’s hand-gun and sets out, intent on revenge. But even here, she’s not permitted to do her own thing. Leon, in particular, takes over her vengeance along with Dani, saying it’s men’s work. He locks his daughter up, and heads next door. They’re all going to be in for some unpleasant revelations and experiences before that cut to black.

None of it, unfortunately, will probably make much of an impression. The film quite cynically manipulates the viewer, by withholding essential information about what exactly happened to Laura. First, we presume she was raped (albeit with a caveat that it feels as if her own actions led her into the situation); then we see a video which suggests it was very much a consensual encounter; finally, we get to experience what actually took place. There’s a point beyond which I stopped trusting the film-makers, and that’s likely the moment at which the movie lost me. It’s hard to feel much enthusiasm for a heroine who’s such a door-mat either, one who appears weirdly unenthusiastic about her own impending nuptials, and is simply adopting the path of least resistance.

I do get that this is likely the point, with the film making a statement about the patriarchy and how it rides roughshod over the will of the feminine. But I tend to think, if you are an adult who won’t stand up for yourself, why should you expect anybody else to stand up for you? Laura is wilful enough to abandon her fiance in the middle of the night, and show up uninvited at a stranger’s party. There’s a line beyond which people need to accept their actions will have consequences, and I tend to think she cartwheeled over it, well before the camera started rolling on the phone. For this, among a range of other reasons, I was left unsatisfied.