Silent Fall was not so silent after all!
Bonnie Sayers | Los Angeles, CA | 10/20/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The only movie I can really compare Silent Fall to is Mercury Rising, which I have seen several times and never tire of it and have yet to sell my copy. I now regret selling my copy of Silent Fall since Ben Faulkner plays the non-verbal autistic child, Tim quite accurately. It is kind of freaky how both children in these movies resemble my own non-verbal son. Luckily the viewer does not have to witness the murders that take place in the parent's bedroom.
Silent Fall begins in the aftermath at the residence with Tim holding the knife which is presumed to be the murder weapon. The eighteen year-old sister Sylvie is portrayed by Liv Tyler, and hiding in her closet, apparently attacked by the intruder. Supposedly she was shopping at the mall and came home while the murders were taking place.
Law enforcement has enlisted the assistance of a psychiatrist played by Richard Dreyfuss, who immediately informs them the child is autistic and sends one of the officers around the house in search of a deck of cards. At first Jake runs out not wanting to get involved with the case, but a moment later enters the house and is able to render the knife away from Tim.
Since the sister is eighteen the issue of who will take care of Tim is never really addressed, although they did stay with some relative for one day, but the incident at the dinner table resulted in Tim tearing up the kitchen.
I believe this was the first role for Liv Tyler, and her acting was quite rigid at times with no real facial expressions or hints of sadness at the loss of her parents. You could tell the compassion for her brother, but this was by the tone in her voice at times it became higher pitched.
John Lithgow plays Dr. Harlow who uses drugs on patients and is not a friendly type of Doctor. There is some connection between the two Doctors and the Sheriff. A few times Jake brings up the past incident where a former patient who was also autistic and non-verbal committed suicide by jumping in the lake at Jake's residence. It was not fully explained, but from what I gathered this is where it took place. At one point Jake is discussing this child, Billy, with his wife. Linda Hamilton is a lawyer who has a small supporting role. She is instrumental in getting Jake to take on Tim as a patient.
It was never mentioned what the drug was that the other Dr wanted to inject Tim with and I was not positive if the other patient Billy ever had an injection. At times you could see the concern from Sylvie for her brother and at other times she made no sense. I believe Sylvie was going to college during the day while Tim was working with Jake. The house they lived in was very large and creepy at times when they walked up the winding staircase.
Silent Fall did keep me guessing and also questioning some things, but it held my interest the entire time and I was satisfied for the most part with the way autism was presented, especially since it was not a true story and more of a thriller. One disturbing aspect is when Tim is using echolalia and repeating the F word that his father had used toward him.
Richard Dreyfuss did a good job with his performance, although at times it was hard to tell what the character was thinking or feeling. His depiction of a child psychiatrist was believable and he showed interest in the patient and he seemed to have knowledge in the subject of autism. John Lithgow was the Doctor you grew to despise, although his character was under developed.
The best actor in Silent Fall by far was Ben Faulkner, who played the boy, but he did not seem to be a nine-year old since my son is the same age. His blank stares and vocalizing with noises was right on target and gave me goose bumps at times. For those that like mystery thrillers this is a good flick to consider and get a inside look at the world of a non-verbal autistic child with some off the wall scenarios.
DR. RAINER'S OPUS
Michael Butts | Martinsburg, WV USA | 03/11/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Richard Dreyfuss' quiet, restrained performance highlights this durable little thriller from Bruce Beresford, the director of such movies as BREAKER MORANT, DOUBLE JEOPARDY and of course, the Oscar winning DRIVING MISS DAISY. Dreyfuss portrays a psychologist who finds himself involved in the brutal murder of a couple, whose autistic son was found holding the murder weapon. Ben Faulkner as little Tim is quite good in his role, with evocative brown eyes and a cherubic little face. Liv Tyler plays his older sister, who was also at the scene of the crime. Tyler's first role is a difficult one, and her inexperience shows in her incomplete performance, but she does have a few good moments. J.T. Walsh shows up as the sheriff who was also having an affair with the boy's mother. John Lithgow plays a callous doctor who wants to medicate the little boy; Lithgow is pretty much wasted in the role. Ditto to Linda Hamilton, who shows up as either Dreyfuss' girlfriend or wife, one never knows which. She seems to have little interest in her role or her performance. In spite of this, however, SILENT FALL engages the viewer in the whodunit aspect, although the murderer is pretty obvious. Beautifully filmed in Baltimore County, the movie manages to intrigue and entertain."
Mysteries Tomb Down as Autumn Leaves.
Maximiliano F Yofre | Buenos Aires, Argentina | 09/14/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Silent Fall" (1994) is a very good "whodunit" movie. It keeps you hooked from the very beginning.
Aussie director Bruce Beresford is something more than a good artisan. He is an artist, even if not so very recognized in the USA, where he received "only" two Oscar nominations. He has been endorsed with four Golden Berlin Bear nominations and a huge variety of awards.
He has delivered at least one unforgettable film: "Driving Miss Daisy" (1989).
At the present movie he manages to present a not very complicated thread as to what happened the crime's day, yet full of surprises and twists.
He also shows a sure hand directing boy actor Ben Faulkner in his only movie appearance.
The story is as follows a brutal butchery is perpetrated in well-to-do family's mansion.
A couple is stabbed to death, their teenage daughter is found alive but bloodied and in shock inside a closet and their ten years old autistic son has a huge knife in his hands and refuse to give it to the police or calm down.
The worried Sheriff resorts to his friend Dr. Jake Rainer to help him out of this situation.
From here on, a classic "whodunit" situation arises: the two witnesses are handicapped one way or the other. The girl wasn't able to see murder's face and was violently thrown into unconsciousness. The boy has seen everything but is unable to communicate verbally with coherence and answer questions.
No other clues arise from the following investigation.
When all leads are followed to no result the Sheriff is forced to recur to Dr. Harlinger's help. He is psychiatrist and prone to use drugs. Dr. Rainer interposes and asks to let him try to extract the information from the deeps of Timmy's mind.
This investigation is fascinating and full of turns and twists up to the end.
Playacting is good without being superb. Richard Dreyfuss as Dr. Rainer and Ben Faulkner as Timmy are the best. Linda Hamilton (the unforgettable Sara Conner of "Terminator") is correct as Rainer's wife. John Lithgow as Dr. Harlinger gives one of his "traditional" performances. Last but not least Liv Tyler ("Lord of the Rings") performs her debut and that is noticeable, yet without demeaning the whole story.
A special note for Peter James (Aussie and usual collaborator of Beresford) his photography of fall landscape bursting with yellow, red and orange leaves is very beautiful, showing he has deservedly won five award from Australian Academy.
If you like whodunit films do not miss this one!
Reviewed by Max Yofre."