Silenced (aka the Crucible) is a 2011 South Korean film that is not really an easy watch. It's quite good for the most part, but it will leave a bad taste in your mouth for sure. I do recommend watching it, but with the caveat that it will pretty much spoil your evening afterwards. So, you've been warned!
I have a number of general rules that I try to live by, which allow me to go about my life in a civilized society with a clear conscience. These rules include simple mundane courtesies like saying thank you or opening the door for little old ladies or not flipping the bird to that idiot who doesn't know how to drive, to more serious matters like not disrupting someone else's marriage or abusing animals for kicks or cheating someone out of their life savings (which would, incidentally, be quite easy to do in my line of work). My list of rules escalate to not hurting people, but the list has always topped out with the following: DO NOT PHYSICALLY, MENTALLY, OR SEXUALLY ABUSE CHILDREN!
If you don't know already, this movie is all about breaking my "golden rule" stated above. A school chock full of deviant teachers, principals, and employees, which has been systematically and repeatedly raping, beating, and torturing the child students there on a wide scale. To make matters worse (if that's possible), is the fact that this is a school for the deaf & mute, and that many of these children are from broken homes, are orphaned, poor, etc.
To top it off, this movie is based on a true story (a thought, which frankly, I could not get out of my head while watching the thing). Now, I'm not privy as to what was depicted in the movie is actually factual, or what amount of dramatic license was invoked, or what have you. But even if the tiniest bit of any of this is even remotely true, the, I am utterly disgusted. Sadly however, I am no longer surprised by hearing stories like this in the world I live in.
As for the movie itself, it basically revolves around a new teacher who comes to the school and soon uncovers the abuses within. He and a human rights activist he gets to know begin to work to help the children in harm's way, and to punish those involved with the crimes. It's a straight up drama story line and courtroom procedural for the most part. There's little to no action or vengeance involved, and it's not anywhere near as graphic as it might have been (considering the subject matter) if this were part of some other type of film genre.
Production, pacing, and story are all solid enough. Acting is pretty strong throughout (particularly from the children, which had to be bit uncomfortable, performance wise, for them). There's a side story involving the new teacher's child, which quickly takes a back seat to the primary plot point, along with the hinting of a budding relationship between said teacher and the activist. Aside from that, this film focuses almost exclusively on the evil deed at hand, what will be done about it once uncovered, and what efforts the community will go to in order to just make this all go away as quickly & quietly as possible. Oh, and this IS a Korean production, so (SUPER SPOILERS), you might not want to get your hopes up for the happiest of endings.
Bottom line: It's in the 7-8 out of 10 stars range for me. I'll give it an 8, because it is stuck in my brain (at least for now) after watching it, and it was well done overall. And, after all, isn't that what watching cinema is all about?...If you want any type of a remotely "feel good/good time flick", watch something else!...but, if you're in the right mood to watch a solid and effecting drama about a sad and horrible topic, than this film comes fairly well recommended by yours truly!
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