XL Popcorn – A Question of Silence

List Item: Watch all of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”
Progress: 847/1007Title: De stilte rond Christine M. (A Question of Silence)
Director: Marleen Gorris
Year: 1982
Country: Netherlands

Female directors are in short supply on the 1001 list. Throughout cinema history, women have had no where near enough chances to direct – something that is moving more in the right direction now, but is still far away from fine.

Whilst this is the only time Marleen Gorris appears on the 1001 list, this is not the first of her films that I’ve seen. That would be Antonia which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in the early 1990s. Brilliant work of feminist film making that I probably would not have seen if it wasn’t for having a Dutch partner.

I don’t think that any watching of Antonia would have been able to prepare me for the feminist message in A Question of Silence – a film where three women who have never met suddenly (and brutally) murder a man who runs a fashion boutique. The story begins with us seeing the criminal psychologist trying to prescribe a reason behind why such a murder happened and ends with her understanding and possibly even approving – it was because he was a man.

Writing down the premise that the reason these women killed him was because he was a man – well, it’s an odd one to write. However there are so many films out there which goes along a similar idea of the downtrodden and ignored group taking an act of revenge on the oppressing group, always followed by the oppressing group being reluctant or unable to hear or understand. I mean, this is a narrative thread running through Parasite where you substitute gender discrimination for income inequality.

The soundtrack is undeniably eighties… in a bad way, which is a shame as it really ends up deflating the power of the eventual reveal of how the murder went down. With the right score, the methodical murder (which felt like the three women going through a wishlist of how to maim the men who have wronged them in the patriarchy) could have been chilling or at least helped highlight the sense of catharsis. Instead it just felt a little bit off.

A Question of Silence is a very interesting and, sadly given that we are still not at gender equality, a relevant film today. Not necessarily the murder stuff, but the scenes where the women were not being listened to or having their points stolen by men within the same room was just infuriating to see.

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