Beyond Silence
Entertainment: +3
Acceptability: +1 1/2

This poignant family film comes to the United States from Germany. It's about many issues ordinary families face -- responsibility, rebellion, sibling rivalry, pride and most of all, love. However, 9-year-old Lara's (Tatjana Trieb) parents are deaf and dumb. They depend upon her to translate their sign language into words everywhere they go. Martin (Howie Seago), her dad, resents Lara's admiration for his sister Clarissa (Sibylle Canonica), a musician who has no children and spends much time with Lara. She symbolizes everything Lara imagines a normal mother would be, even though she truly cares for both of her parents. When Clarissa gives Lara a clarinet for Christmas, the child is ecstatic while her father feels betrayed because he and his wife cannot share Lara's love for music. When Clarissa arranges for the now 18-year-old Lara (Sylvie Testud) to attend a music conservatory in Berlin, Lara is torn between what her aunt dreams for her and her family's needs. What does Lara dream for herself ? Not even Lara is sure.

BEYOND SILENCE is an outstanding film with a beautiful musical score and an uplifting story that make its English subtitles hardly noticeable. Rarely in a film is a family portrayed as loving as Lara's. They attend church for the deaf, and both the hearing and non-hearing members of the congregation sign the hymns in silence while the organ plays. Martin is a very loving husband and father, but has a temper triggered by frustration when he feels isolated from hearing people. He must learn to let go as Lara begins to seek her own identity and falls in love. Unfortunately, BEYOND SILENCE has one obscenity and a brief sex scene of Lara and her boyfriend seen from the shoulders up. Later her father discovers the two sleeping together with a side view glimpse of their bare hips. That incident results in a terrible argument between Lara and her father, who is appalled at her behavior. Clarissa's husband, Gregor (Matthias Habich), helps Lara understand the sibling rivalry between Clarissa and Martin without placing blame on either one. Eventually, this family learns to listen to each other straight from the heart. The brief sex scene prevents our unqualified recommendation of this otherwise commendable film.

Preview Reviewer: Mary Draughon
Distributor: Miramax Films, 375 Greenwich, NY, NY 10013

Crude Language: Few (3) times - Mild
Obscene Language: Once (s-word)
Profanity: None
Violence: Few times - Mild and Moderate (man throws wine in face of sister; father slaps daughter)
Sexual Intercourse: Once (unmarried couple, not condoned, with brief, side view of nude bodies)
Nudity: Near nudity few times (side view of bare hips; teenager in bra; woman swims nude - shown waist up from rear)
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: Married woman kisses another man
Drug Abuse: Few times (teenager drinks wine with aunt and in club)
Other: Child shown sitting on commode as she relieves herself; pregnant woman's water breaks in church; child deliberately mis-translates sign language for teacher
Running Time: 120 minutes
Intended Audience: Teenagers and adults

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