A Question of Silence (De stilte rond Christine M.)

A Question of Silence

You don’t understand people at all, do you? And certainly not women.

DISCLAIMER: I try and be reasonable and rational when it comes to discussing this film, one of the key works of feminism post-Jeanne Dielman, but in my experience, people that openly and proudly call themselves feminists tend to be in the ‘extremist’ variety, just like far-right-or-left wing political views or extremist religious followers; they are rarely rational or reasonable people. No offense, but I am stating from experience. If you are one of these heavily feminist types, this review will piss you off. If you are open to looking at things from an objective viewpoint, you may continue. I do not get heated or take things personally in this review; I try to be as level-headed and objective as I can, but as I’ve said, heavily feminist women tend to intentionally take things the wrong way, so again, if that’s you, you have every right to stop now, or continue and risk reading something you will likely wish you hadn’t.

I knew A Question of Silence would be a very heavily feminist film going into it, so I knew what I was getting into. The film started off, for instance, with a scene where a woman tries to be coy and playful with her husband, and he pretty much rejects her like she is nothing but an insect to be swatted at, until the end when he literally jumps on top of her. It was a conflicting scene, as it is supposed to be, but from there, the film takes a different route. If you’ve ever known a tried and true feminist in your life, you know what they think of men in general; if you don’t, all I need say is: watch this film, and you will. This is feminism in a nutshell. Now, I try and be as open as I can be to other potential viewpoints, but what really gets my goat is when the counter party to my openness is so incredibly closed-minded about their thoughts and values that I am as close to literally bashing my metaphorical head against a brick wall as I can be. Such is the case with extreme feminism. If there is anyone who would view this film, and watch the actions performed by the main trio of women for which they are being tried, and think to themselves, “You go, girl!”, then just know, as per my disclaimer, you are no better than the Tea Party Republicans or the extremist religious nuts or jihadists. Just know that.

A psychiatrist, female, is brought onto a case involving the murder of a shopkeeper by three women, and through her questioning and investigation (i.e. flashbacks) we learn more about the trio of women and what their lives were like that led them to commit the act in question. We get the before, the act, and the after, all through the point of view of the psychiatrist, who starts to empathize a little too much with the murderers. I can’t talk about the quality of the film too much, since the version I watched was a VHS transfer, and thus didn’t have all that good a quality, but from what I saw, it was at the least competently done; Nothing too standout either way. Well, at first there wasn’t. Then I was hit with the music, which was, to put it in a word, cringe-worthy. The general music of the 80s has not aged well, and this definitely falls into that category, which was unfortunate. As for the story, while I may not have liked the direction it went in, it was well told at least, even if the ending was a bit deliberately open-ended.

I wasn’t sure if the film was legitimately trying to explore the patriarchal world that women live in, or if it was trying to make it up as a propaganda case for feminism. There was one scene, for instance, where a secretary was in a meeting with a bunch of men, who were discussing business, when they all fade out and stop talking, distracted by the mere fact that the woman is stirring her coffee. One of the men then reaches over and grabs her wrist, stopping her making the clinking sounds. In response, the music emits a murderous tone, and we zoom in on the eyes of the woman, as if this was some great injustice that warranted the action of killing in retaliation for it. In the context of the film, of course it’s another sign that the men of the world refuse to tolerate a woman doing anything without their consent, and I got it easily, but it wasn’t realistic; neither the men’s reaction or the woman’s internal reaction is what a sane and rational person would have in such a situation, unless they were deliberately looking at it in the worst way. It’s a bit of an easy decision to view all of feminism in this way; just women looking at every situation with the worst possible viewpoint, but as I said in my disclaimer, it’s just like any heavily opinionated viewpoint; there are extremists, and then there are the moderates, and the moderates usually far outweigh the fringe population. For what it’s worth, I think this film greatly succeeds at what it tries to do; it’s just what it is trying to do and how it goes about doing it that rubs me the wrong way.

Arbitrary Rating: 6/10

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