A Silent Love

A Silent Love is a nice, quiet little film that takes a strange subject more in line with a comedy, and turns it into a surprisingly emotional character study. Norman Green (Noel Burton, Gothika, Abandon), a film professor from Montreal flies down to Mexico to meet Gladys (Vanessa Bauche, Amores Perros, Streeters). They met through what is essentially a mail order bride service, but the two corresponded for a year before deciding to meet. Gladys is extremely nervous about the trip, and convinces Norman to let her mother Fernanda (Susana Salazar) to come with them to help ease the transition.

Director Federico Hidalgo (Loteria) does an interesting thing with the Norman character. There is a huge language barrier between Gladys and Fernanda and Norman. Normally, the viewer would identify with Norman, since he speaks English. However, he is extremely quiet, frustrating so at times. He has little to say, and prefers using motions to lead Fernanda and Gladys around the house, or simple gestures to point. This is baffling to the two women, especially Gladys, who fell in love with the many kinds words he wrote in all of his letters. By having Burton say very little, Hidalgo allows the viewer to feel what Gladys is feeling. She wants to know what he is thinking, but he never gives any sort of clue about what is going on in his head. It relies on people believing that any normal person would act the way that Norman does, and this can be a stretch. A Silent Love tries to ameliorate this by making him a film professor who love silent film, and the way that the characters in them communicate using everything except words, but this stretches credulity.

Hidalgo, who co-wrote the screenplay with Paulina Robles, milks the story for all of its comedic and poignant moments. It is funny watching Gladys and Fernanda try to figure Norman out, but the flip side is that it is extremely isolating. Gladys is in a new environment where she cannot speak the language and does not know anybody. The only person she can rely on is not much help at all. Supposedly Gladys was headstrong and bitter before she met Norman, but this, which is probably meant to explain some of her actions later in the film, never plays out effectively with her character. It is more superfluous biographical information than anything else. The sense of isolation that Gladys feels begins to manifest itself as resentment towards Norman, which frustrates her more. She is happy for the opportunity, and she is pretty sure she loves Norman, but she hates what he is doing to her.

Over time, things become a little better. Gladys and Fernanda learn more English, and Norman learns more Spanish. Still, there is this huge emotional void between, and now that Gladys is more independent, she begins to drift further from Norman. Hidalgo throws in a little plot twist that he doesn't bother trying to hide, and it does turn the table on all three of the characters, as well as propel the emotional nature of the story further. Bauche and Salazar give nice performances. Histrionics are kept to a minimum, forcing these women to deal with their problems in a realistic, moving manner. Burton is okay, but his character at times is nothing more than a caricature. Hidalgo downplays all the hoopla surrounding the idea of the marriage, and wisely focuses on the two people trying to adjust to each other. The entire concept behind A Silent Love is pretty thin, but it does allow for some good performances by Bauche and Salazar.

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 50 minutes, Spanish and English with English subtitles, Not Rated but contains minor sensuality and language, an easy PG-13, possibly an R.

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