Silent Fall

MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +2

Content: -2

Retired psychologist Jacob Rainer (Richard Dreyfuss) agrees to take the case of a ten-year old autistic boy Tim, the only witness to his parents' murder. Tim's 19-year old sister, Sylvia (Liv Tyler), also tries to help Tim come out of his autistic shell enough to help in the investigation. Rainer's therapeutic and loving approach is opposed by Dr. Harlinger (John Lithgow), who wants to give the boy a truth serum that would make him talk, but might also drive him further away from reality. Dr. Rainer struggles with his own doubts as to his unorthodox method of treatment which may have led to the suicide of an autistic boy some years earlier. In what turns out to be a predictable melodrama, we finally learn the dark secret of the autistic boy's family, which includes child abuse. There is really no need to abuse your mind by going to see SILENT FALL, which falls flat in both script and plot. Not even the usually competent Dreyfuss can save this one.

The major irritation comes from the use of offensive language by the autistic boy. In his autistic state, he eventually begins to repeat dialogue full of obscenities and profanities he heard that fateful night, not just once but several times. The murder scene is replayed numerous times with blood splattered on the bed and walls of the parents' bedroom. When Sylvia's story begins to fall apart, she uses drugs and alcohol to kill Dr. Rainer, after first trying to seduce him in a somewhat revealing nightgown. Except for that scene, SILENT FALL contains no sexual situations or nudity. However, the implication that the murder of Sylvia's parents is justifiable because it was in revenge for child abuse is disturbing. The story line takes advantage of the excessive publicity of the Menendez brothers trial to rationalize murder in "self-defense." But no matter how terrible such abuse may be, it should never be a reason for taking another person's life in cold blood. SILENT FALL is altogether too unrestrained in its language and "politically correct" in its message to ever gain a fair trial from a discriminating viewer.

Preview Reviewer: Greg Wilson
Warner Bros., 4000 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91522

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (14) times - Mild 9, Moderate 5

Obscene Language: Several (8) times - (f-word 4, s-word 4)

Profanity: Many (28) times - Regular 11 (G-d, J, C, G); Exclamatory 17

Violence: Bloody aftermath of violent murder shown several times

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Few times (references to intercourse, attempted seduction in fairly revealing nightgown)

Drugs: Prescription drugs mixed with alcohol, but not condoned

Other: Implication that murder justified in cases of sexual or physical abuse

Running Time:
Intended Audience: Adults

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