Monday, February 24, 2014

691. De stilte rond Christine M./A Question of Silence (1982)

Running Time: 92 minutes
Directed By: Marleen Gorris
Written By: Marleen Gorris
Main Cast: Edda Barends, Nelly Frijda, Henriette Tol, Cox Habbema, Eddie Brugman


Thank you to the few who tracked me down in iCheckmovies - hopefully we can spy on what each other watched and have fun doing so. I took in "A Question of Silence" last night (which you would've known if you were following me on, but needed an extra day to think about what I thought of it. All in all, it was okay I guess.

The film is a feminism piece and much like when I watched "Do the Right Thing", I got the feeling that I wasn't invited to this party. The film begins with three women being arrested. The women are strangers to each other and one by one, the police go to either their workplace or their home, draw their handcuffs and place the ladies under arrest. We soon learn that the three women were involved in a murder. The murder took place in a local boutique, when the shop owner (a man) catches one of the women, Christine (Barends) shoplifting. He tries to stop her, but is then confronted by the other two women, Annie (Frijda) and Andrea (Tol) and the three proceed in punching and kicking him, even going so far as to violently butcher his penis with a broken coat hanger. We see all of this in three flashback scenes and never actually see the murder, only hear it. The main story revolves around psychiatrist Janine van den Bos (Habbema), who is assigned to determine whether the women are sane or not. Along the way, Janine forms her own opinions of the women and her husband, a lawyer (Brugman), writes all three of them off as insane.


That's the long and short of it, kiddies. The movie is fine, lingering somewhere in the average rating range. There weren't any particularly bad elements, nor were there any particularly good ones. The film mixes courtroom drama, psychological character study and feminist propaganda together nicely (not that I'd really know anything about a feminist piece) and works fairly well. The acting is solid from all involved and I especially liked Henriette Tol, who managed to mix scary and sexy seamlessly. How about that scene where she's picked up by a guy mistaking her for a prostitute and she has the most cold sex with him I've ever seen portrayed on film. Brilliant and creepy. Honestly though, the film doesn't really go that far. The whole thing revolves around one character's perception of the whole thing and it's a lot of dialogue and not particularly riveting dialogue either. I will laud the score though, which added something to the whole mix and the technique of showing us the crime in flashbacks and actually never SHOWING us the crime. That only made our imaginations run a little more wild, which always works better than anything that could be shown.

I was convinced that the psychiatrist would kill her own husband at the end of the film, but Gorris went for the "everybody laughs hysterically" ending. I'm not sure I really got that, nor am I sure I was supposed to. It wasn't a particularly good ending, was it? And what was with those other four or five women, the ones who were in the boutique, but never did anything? It was as if there was some sort of female cult that we were never told about and they all belonged to it....

Anyway, it is what it is. It's worth a look, just don't go expecting too much and you may come out loving it, as there are elements to love. You also may come out disliking, as there's plenty to get frustrated over too. However, you may be like me and feel very indifferent toward the film, because it is a tough nut to crack.

RATING: 6/10  Not bad, not bad at all. Just a tough one to get a good reading on and another viewing, sometime down the line could be in order.


February 24, 2014  6:36pm


  1. Oh I do love a good piece of ironic coincidence.

    being in a different time zone, blogs from the USA (presumably posted evening, local time), are there waiting for me first thing in the morning.

    So today I awoke to see 'incoming' from both you and Amanda...

    So people who read both please have a quick look what Amanda has for us in delicious contrast to this.. (don't forget to come back though...)

    But the subject in hand right now is this... The book gives full and fair warning what you are going to get and that opinions will probably be polarised, probably along gender lines
    So I sat down to THIS one.. sort of guarded, but wanting to prove them wrong.

    Oh dear.
    No, I'm afraid I found this as subtle and persuasive as.. well ... a sharp coat hanger to the groin.
    Portrayed as good v bad in stark, crude simplistic portrayals of gender stereotypes, (Men = crude unfeeling idiots, Women = aware, compassionate) this, I felt, was as 'empowering' to women as.. well.. what Amanda was watching.
    There was a comment I made sometime ago on a film.. but I forget which one... We had a film, that on the surface was supposedly a liberal one.. but done so crudely, I remember pondering if it had been financed by the CIA to put the anti-establishment point of view in a bad light.
    This one could be shown at (sorry, non UK readers won't get the point of the metaphor) Jeremy Clarkson's stag do who would bray with delight to see what a bunch of crude men-haters any feminist really is.

    OK, perhaps i should calm down.. I am over-reacting a little.
    this film did make some good points, and there were times it had me.. but it was that ending.. exiting the court with what (I assume) was meant to be sisterly solidarity laughter.. but came over as manic delight. You could have turned on the TV showing for that last few minutes and thought you'd caught the end of some very early 'Sex and the City' episode, and they were off for a great girls night out after the Judge has just awarded them free cocktails and designer shoes for life.

    Was this film REALLY supposed to portray feminism as permission to mutilate (physically and metaphorically) men? One would hope not.. but if not, it sailed very close to saying so that any misunderstanding can be understood.

    Ooops. Sorry, I've gone on a bit again. I didn't hate, or even dislike this film. I was glad to have seen it. In the same way as 'Do the right thing' . Good comparison, as I had very much the same feeling.

    Hey, somehow I felt I was disagreeing with you when I started this.. somehow I feel we ended up almost in agreement.

    1. LOVE LOVE the comment about "Sex and the City". I was laughing out loud. Wish I'd have thought of that. Anyway, yeah, it sounds like we are in agreement. We've been doing that a lot lately.

  2. Never seen but I was just forced to watch Faster Pussycat so a feminist movie would be a welcome change.

    Did I read your twitter feed right? You are attempting the 1001 album challenge??

    1. Yes, but very casually and I'm not going to be writing about it (yet, although, I have taken a few notes).

      Poor you for having to watch "Pussycat", I feel your pain. I'll swing by momentarily to make a few comments.


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