Silent Night movie review: all is neither calm nor bright

ByDonald L. Leech

Dec 5, 2021


In a different year, without pandemic anxieties still as common as Christmas hams, Silent night would hit differently. Since life imitates art and vice versa, a throwaway line can redefine a narrative. A simple conversation in Camille Griffin’s apocalyptic holiday “comedy” – about scientists mistaking a deadly epidemic of pathogens – and, well, the immediate anti-vax implication becomes more “yuck” than provocative. It’s mumbled. Dialogue goes ahead. But, in a modern landscape where people struggle with disinformation on a daily basis, that leaves a bad taste that lingers. It’s a film that is otherwise a raucous and meditative examination of how best to deal with the impending demise of humanity. The darkest of comedies at this – where holiday cheer fights existential terror.

It’s the last December on planet Earth, and Nell (Keira Knightley, Atonement, The edge of love ) is determined to welcome her lifelong friends for a last festive farewell. Clouds of poison gas are devouring nations and eradicating their populations – with England next on the menu. Nell and her husband Simon (Matthew Goode, Downton abbey) pop bottles of Prosecco as their guests arrive, hoping to share a few more smiles before they take their government-released suicide pill. Some aren’t sold on the sleepytime-forever tablet, like Nell’s son Art (Roman Griffin Davis), who begins to question whether the pact of friends and family to die together is salvation or murder. Art will not enter, as it seems, quietly into the night.

Griffin’s first feature film is an experimental challenge that relies on flawless performances. Nell and Simon must remain hospitable and bubbly enough to keep a high-tempo mood from descending into severe depression – despite Art’s paranoid interjections that ensure audiences understand the issues. Silent night has to be comical enough that it doesn’t get depressing, but serious enough that it doesn’t let laughter take over satire and protest at the heart of the story. It is successful on both fronts. The gallows’ yin and yang humor over dreadful finality makes for an eerily healthy, yet suffocating, holiday reunion. Griffin’s confidence in shaping actors and using the tension of conversation reigns supreme.

The cast itself is a shining ensemble, with Sandra (Annabelle Wallis) confessing her attraction to James (Sope Dirisu) because what does infidelity matter at the end of the world? Or the words of apocalyptic wisdom from Bella (Lucy Punch). It’s hard to fault the performances as the characters dance to Michael Bublé’s Christmas carol, between conspiracy theories that Russia is responsible for the global disaster. Everyone commands their moment of influence – except for Kirby Howell-Baptiste who is sort of sidelined as Alex, partner of Bella and Lily-Rose Depp as James’ young lover and advocate. voice of the value of the elderly. The way interactions can shift from intoxicated jubilation to voice admissions of petrified fear is the film’s most significant accomplishment, in what some might consider a dinner from a hellish storyline.

Keira Knightley and Matthew Goode are expected to garner the most praise as parents pretending to be brave for the sake of their offspring. However, Roman Griffin Davis (Bunny Jojo) steals special attention in another role that makes him a child actor whose talents are limitless.

Silent night is an incredibly morbid and honestly dysfunctional tale about the absolute worst of times. Camille Griffin’s cinematic pandemic riff engulfs the joy of Christmas and holds the good news hostage. Everyone’s costumes are sleek, while the yellow and gray swirls of airborne death consume the metropolitan areas outside and the threat of bleeding orifices leaves a greater question of “Well, what if I didn’t take it?” not the pill ”that permeates the minds of the public. Here is the small downside. The film is cleverly catastrophic, but I just wish there wasn’t an element against agreeing with government agencies “just” because they are in control. . It’s a message raging against tyrannical machines and “science” which, in today’s immediate context, aligns unfavorably with current debates about vaccines. That’s not to say it’s intentional, but only serves to highlight how narratives evolve outside of a creator’s ultimate control.

However, Silent night is an unholy union of joy and expiration that relishes the deep and inevitable fears of humanity. Enormous performance power fuels this psychological broiler by design that requires and receives A-plays from actors. Griffin’s first feature film is a fearless take on environmental horror that doesn’t warp or crumble – although there are some unfortunate cases that strike far too close to home. You’re still going to laugh, cringe, and maybe cry as expected – now with a warning, for good measure.