Monday, 30 April 2018

A Silent Voice - Film Review

Now where do I even start with this one, a complex and messy film that deals with some pretty huge themes such as bullying, ostracization, physical disabilities and even suicide.  Given all that, the films main strength is how it decides to tackle these issues, it doesn't sugarcoat or strip down these complex and difficult idea's. Instead it seems to revel in their messy and uncontrollable nature. As a result the film has this naturalistic feel that made the characters troubles all the more poignant.

So, the basic premise of the film, is that during his childhood years, Shoya bullies a new deaf girl in his class and as a result she is forced to move schools. His friends, who were initially complicate in the bullying, now ostracize him and he becomes a social pariah. The film then picks up years later as Shoya tries to redeem himself and fix the mistakes he has made. This is where the film could have faltered, the main character could have easily had been a boring character who simply feels remorse for his actions and wants to make amends, but the film decides the give the main character so much  more depth. He is riddled with anxiety, so much so that he cant even look people in the eyes, he is filled with self hatred and doubt. And all these issues manifest themselves constantly throughout the film.

The film also takes as much care crafting its supporting characters as it does with it lead, so the whole group feel like fully fleshed out characters. Although pointing that out, it is a shame that there is one or two characters that feel woefully underdeveloped and seem to stick out like a sore thumb as a result.

The same care and attention has also been given to the films visuals, not only is the animation and art style on top form, but the cinematography is excellent. Due to the film being from Shoya's perspective it means that so many of the shots seem to be avoiding eye contact, instead focusing on subtle mannerisms and hand movements, that adds a layer of subtlety to the films visuals and characterization. The way the film also uses negative space in its shot composition is also incredibly nuanced, adding a sense of loneliness and isolation to certain scene, truly driving certain themes home.

The film unfortunately does stumble in a few places, mainly to do with the films structure and pacing, overall the film does feel kind messy and a bit unfocused at times, resulting in the lack of good narrative flow. You could argue that that is kind of the point, the naturalistic style leads to this sense of unpredictability, but again certain aspects just seem oddly out of place as a result.

The ending is also kind of a mixed bag, whats great is that it doesn't feel like the end for the characters, instead a new beginning, they have started to put the past behind them and have started to grow up. It's just a little bit of a shame that everything wraps up a little too neat and tidy for my liking.

Overall, this coming of age story is surprisingly nuanced and detailed, adding the right amount of depth and complexity to make the whole thing feel affecting. It's only really let down by one or two aspects that seem oddly out of place.