They were easily my best class this year, and a solid contender for all-time. When I would launch into one of my countless/pointless stories (you frequent readers know what I'm talking about) the students in my third block would actually move closer. Not even on the sly, mind you, as they would jump out of their chairs and someone would say shh, he's telling a story. Without a hint of hyperbole, let me tell you, it was the best thing ever.
The only way I could pay them back, was quite simple: when they spoke, I listened. And when movies came up, if I hadn't seen it, I promised I would watch it. One dude recommended Fury [review] and off to Redbox I went. Another young man vouched for Paddington [review] and I watched it hours later. But this last one? Well, I dragged my feet on it. Not because of the student (as she's one of my favorite people alive), but because of the subject matter.
Silenced is a good movie, but a terrible story. One I'm positive I'll never, ever watch again. It's technically sound, full of very solid performances, and presents an interesting narrative, but its a punishing watch.
As a parent, educator and (moderately) functioning member of society, I still can't wrap my mind around how this could ever happen, but years ago in South Korea - it did.
Set in a school for deaf children, director Dong-hyuk Hwang's 2011 feature details the true events of the systemic rape and abuse of students as young as eight years old. Protected by an uninterested police force, and hiding behind infinite bureaucratic bullshit, the principal of the school and his staff basically did whatever the Hell they wanted to these kids. And unfortunately for the viewer, it's all rather graphically portrayed on screen. *shudder*
Fortunately, the school hires a new teacher, Kang In-ho, and this dude is pretty much immediately aware that something's up. And after a chance encounter with a social worker, not to mention being privy to some weird occurrences, In-ho risks his job and the welfare of his family and decides to bring the whole thing crashing down. In one instance, and perhaps my favorite moment of the film, the whole crashing thing is quite literal.
Where I think this film is like countless others (technically, anyway) where the little guy risks it all to expose the injustices of his employer, Silenced wins (or, um, loses) due to the horrific nature of its subject. If it gets worse than raping handicapped children, do me a favor and never f--king tell me about it, okay? My point, is that unless you want to feel absolutely terrible for two hours, I'm going to recommend that you don't bother with this one. Maybe read an article or two, but spare yourself the misery.
Speaking of misery, here are the Yays and Boos for Silenced. Luckily my student's grades are in the book, or else I might have to dock her a point or two for the gut-punch that this flick was. Ugh.
|This is one of four smiles in the film. Just kidding.|
It's the only one.
- Yoo Gong, pictured to the left, does a very good job as In-ho. Even before he got to the school, his character was dealing with some shit. And even though you sense he's ultimately defeated...he simply never gives up. He can't.
- Even though she's sick and inadvertently driving her dad to not quit, In-ho's daughter, Sol, is insanely adorable. She provides the perfect level of motivation for his actions in every possible sense.
- So, there's a point where In-ho is delivering flowers for some reason, right? Well, after walking in on a kid being beaten senseless, he does what I expect any one of us would do. He runs down the hall and smashes the vase over that guy's f--king head. For such a reserved guy, this move was HUGE.
- The eventual courtroom scene is pretty crazy. There are a couple of huge moments where my perpetual sadface momentarily unstuck itself.
- In-ho's mom spends most of the movie being a real bitch. But, thankfully, she redeems herself in a bog way. Well, fine. It was a little way...but still. I support it.
- And finally, when I watch something I was randomly recommended, I always appreciate the infinite number of steps that led to me seeing a film I would have otherwise never heard of. It's little, sure, but as a movie nerd, I kind of dig it, you know? (yes, even with this soul-crushing film)
- So when you get hired at this molestation academy? You have to pay them fifty grand for the right to work there? What the f--k is this?
- Um, Subtitle Guy? He's a big fan of the word 'cuz'. Why? I don't know...cuz?
- There's a point where one of the children, a younger deaf girl, is standing on the edge of a windowsill, about to kill herself. In-ho yells up to her. Yeah. Awful, right?
- Without really going into it/reliving it, there are about a half-dozen scenes of graphic physical abuse. Sadly, these are almost watchable, especially when compared to the half-dozen or so scenes of sexual abuse. Could we imply some shit, please? Damn it, man.
- City Hall. I don't know about your home town, but in this part of South Korea? City Hall is exclusively staffed by f--king assholes and stupid bitches. That one lady made me want to pause the movie and punch my TV...in her face.
- Cop cars are pretty casual in South Korea. Seriously. They don't even have the cage-thingy.
- Clearly I don't know much about anything, but does such a place exist where retired judges who then become lawyers are essentially guaranteed to win their first case? Out of COURTESY? Are you f--king kidding me?
- And finally, according to the postscript at the end, some of the involved individuals continued to work at the school after the trial. Fingers crossed that wasn't the case and that something was lost in translation.
You want to know how this one was recommended in the first place? Well, I'm going to tell you anyway. Some kids were talking about messed-up movies and someone in the back mentioned Insidious or something. I laughed. Oh, you want messed up? The most messed up movie I've ever seen is something called Oldboy. It was like I couldn't take the words back fast enough, as each of the three kids I've mentioned went home and watched it immediately.
I'd argue that now you're gonna listen to me? But these kids? They did. And I totally appreciated them for it.
Which somehow led me to a movie about the direct opposite.