Silent Beauty


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Silent Beauty
"Whatever the criticisms of the film itself are, Jasmín Mara López's bravery in tackling the subject of child abuse within her own family is never in doubt."

Courage in filmmaking doesn't just come from reportage documentarians, who are putting themselves into the lines of fire in danger zones, it can also come from those filmmakers who embark on a personal, but no less difficult, journey into their own trauma. This film, from Jasmín Mara López is firmly of the latter sort and whatever the criticisms of the film itself are, her bravery in tackling the subject of child abuse within her own family is never in doubt.

With that said, her film about the way her grandfather abused her as a child - an act that we will come to learn was by no means a one-off in her family - is an intensely personal and ruminative one which, at times, feels as much like a therapy session for herself and her immediate relatives as it does something that is opening out for a wider audience.

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The director is careful to note that all survivor's experiences are different and her open approach and consideration of the lasting mental impact the abuse had upon her may well offer a gateway to others to talk about their trauma. Nevertheless, the hyper-personal nature of what is being said means that although it generates empathy and solidarity for survivors, the film is so personal, it at times feels excluding in terms of audience engagement.

Even though much of this is a tough watch, particularly segments in which we hear López confront her grandfather about the abuse and his repeated denials of it, the director has a poetic sensibility, making use of water imagery as a metaphor for the psychological waters she is navigating. Using home video from her childhood, she also captures the way that life with an abuser can be terribly mundane, yet no less horrific. A film that López herself would no doubt say is not for everyone but a fearless one nonetheless. It certainly makes me want to see what happens when she turns her camera, artistic sensibility and her thoughts more outwards in her future work.

Reviewed on: 06 May 2022
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The director considers her grandfather's abuse of her as a child and breaking the silence around that abuse.

Director: Jasmin Mara López

Year: 2022

Runtime: 87 minutes

Country: US


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