The Look of Silence

The Look of Silence ★★★★½

Is it as formally radical as its predecessor (or "companion" as Oppenheimer would insist)? Of course not. But that hardly dampens its visceral power. The bravery of central figure Adi in each and every confrontation is jaw-dropping. Oppenheimer had a bit of privilege in his dealings with these men, in that he could leave the country and avoid personal consequences for whatever he said to them. Adi and his family live surrounded by these killers, controlled by them, but he shows no fear in calling them out on their lies and hypocrisies. "You ask me deeper questions than even Joshua did!" one of them exclaims, furious at the insolence Adi shows him.

There's something to be said for the subtle returning presence of a meta-film element as well. The only reason Adi can survive to the end of all these conversations is because the men have the camera on them. In a post-screening Q&A, Oppenheimer stated that at the time of shooting he had a reputation for being friends with high-level commanders as a result of shooting The Act of Killing, so none of the interviewees dared retaliate against him and by extension Adi. They didn't know at the time that his relationship with those men was so interrogative.

This is a major work, enhanced by its companion as much as it enhances its companion. The two work beautifully in tandem, filling holes in each other that you might not even know are there otherwise. Oppenheimer is already in the pantheon of great contemporary filmmakers.

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