Directed by: Diemo Kemmesies
Starring: Martin Bruchmann, Josef Mattes, Mathias Neuber
There’s very little doubt that, in other hands, writer/director Diemo Kemmesies’ tale of adolescent homosexuality in contemporary Berlin would be a complex and compelling watch. Carried in his cautions grasp though, Silent Youth is little more than a dull and dreary watch
It is on Marlo (Martin Bruchmann) and Kirill’s (Josef Mattes) romance that the film focuses on. The natural awkwardness that softly oscillates between the two proficient performers augments their character’s personal worries, as their friendship develops into something more intimate than either of them initially expected. Marlo and Kirill’s encounters are instilled with silence, but both the close bond between them and their individual anxieties are visually audible.
Kemmesis can certainly craft atmosphere from behind the lens. Albrecht Von Grünhagen’s grey-hued and gritty cinematography accentuates the sadness of the story, and there are some beautiful moments of profound cinematic poetry to be seen, particularly during the tender early stages of the boy’s relationship.
The problem is that Kemmesies has a persistently slow and subdued style of direction. The story is simplistic, and its lack of complexity soon leads to a lack of interest on the part of the viewer. Despite the power from the performances, the film is emotionally weak and woefully downcast in tone.
So much so that at 75 minutes it feels too long, which is almost ironic given that the story has shades of Blue Is The Warmest Colour within it, a film that was close to 3hrs in length and still didn’t feel long enough. If it had been helmed by that film’s director, Abdellatif Kechiche, Silent Youth may have been a brighter and more emotionally vibrant prospect. Here though, having been steered with such a weary grasp, the only colour you end up seeing is grey, and there’s nothing warm about it.