In a small Romanian town, circa 1953, an illicit romance between two young lovers is causing friction between their respective families. In a bid to quell the fighting, they agree to marry. Ensuing wedding festivities are curtailed however, when the occupying Soviet forces order a week of mourning for the death of Joseph Stalin. Despite a prohibition on any gatherings, the villagers decide to stage the wedding celebration and have their feast, albeit in silence – less any noise attract some unwanted attention. A band ‘plays’, speeches are made, and dances are had, all in silence. However some things, are worth making a noise about, consequences be damned.
Silent wedding isn’t a typical premise, and the movie director is likewise not afraid to take atypical direction in delivering the story. It isn’t in every film that the crux of the story centres on some 15 minutes of essentially ‘silent’ cinema. Not that it is actually silent – noise, and the attempt to reduce it, plays an integral part of the silent wedding. Your normal Hollywood blockbuster would normally equate ‘louder’ with ‘better’, so it is refreshing to watch a movie that dedicates a substantial amount of time to the art of not making noise.
More the pity, therefore, that the director couldn’t capitalise fully on this idea. As a movie, Silent Wedding is a mess. The premise, while atypical, is straight forward enough that it could have been told in a direct fashion, and been left to speak for itself. Unfortunately, the makers decided to pad the film out with doses of non-sensical symbolism, side stories and liberal amounts of slapstick humour.
In particular, the village is filled of eccentric characters, including the hard drinking husbands, the ever moaning wives, the surly town prostitute, the wacky professor, the inept town mayor, and, of course, the village midget. The characters are all two-dimensional representations, with any form of character development being non-existent, and relationships (including that of the wedding couples) left undeveloped. Leaving the characters and their relationships in such a state has the subsequent effect of reducing any emotional payoff obviously desired by the inevitable consequences of their act of defiance.
Weighty ideas around the loss of innocence and the absurdity of war are thrown around, but never really fully fleshed out. For instance, the fledgling village Communist party, headed up by the town mayor, is portrayed (literally) like the Three Stooges. At one point, the circus comes to town, only to leave on the day of the funeral of a local ‘free-spirited’ girl that was raped and murdered by the Russians (who conveniently left a ‘calling card’). Hitching a ride with the circus and leaving town is the village midget, who finds love amongst the acts with another small sized person. In a not particularly poignant scene they remark on the idiocy of society, and question why children desire to grow up. ‘Luckily we never have to!’, they decide. Subtle commentary? Not really. Another scene has the murder victim appearing as a ghostly apparition, chased back to her grave in a stop-motion film sequence. Interesting? Sure. Confusing? Definitely.
Furthermore, questionable choices are made when it comes to humour. Children trying to peak in on the sexual rendezvous of the young lovers and molesting the town prostitute are fairly problematic examples. The silent feast provides further opportunities for high-brow ‘hilarity’, including answering the question of how to manage bodily motions in a quiet manner. Hint: you don’t. Issues further arise with the pacing of the film. Despite its short 1hour 20 min running time, the movie drags in some spots, and shots seem to linger longer than required. The movie is unnecessarily booked by a present day setting (the bulk of the movie being told in a ‘flash back’), further convoluting the story.
All told, Silent Wedding is an interesting idea hamstrung by poor characterisations, bad humour, overly inflated thematic ideas and a lack of focus. Some interesting cinematic sequences aside (including the eponymous silent wedding), this movie is best left on the shelf.
Reviewed by: Aidan Kirkby-McLeod
Release date: June 17th, 2010
Stars: Meda Victor, Alexandru Potoceanu, Valentin Teodosiu
Length (Minutes): 87
Aspect Ratio: 1.78 : 1
Supported Audio: Dolby Digital Surround 2.0
Director: Malaele, Horatiu
Studio: Vendetta Films