It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"Beyond Silence'' is one of those films that helps us escape our box of time and space and understand what it might be like to live in someone else's. It tells the story of Lara, the child of deaf parents, who loves them and has been well raised by them, but must, as all children must sooner or later, leave her nest and fly on her own.
The movie isn't centered on a few manufactured plot points, but gives us a sense of the whole span of the family's life. It's not a sentimental docudrama but a hard and yet loving look at the way these people deal with their issues and incriminations. No one is the hero and no one is the villain; they are all doing the best they can, given the way life has made them.
Lara, played as a child by Tatjana Trieb and as a young woman by Sylvie Testud, moves effortlessly between the worlds of sound and sign. She sits beside the TV set, signing for her parents, and translates for them during a heated meeting with a banker. (At the end of the conference, when the banker says "Thanks, Lara,'' she pointedly tells him, "My parents are your customers, not me.'') She is not above mischief. At a parent-teacher conference, she shamelessly represses the teacher's critical observations about her schoolwork.
The crucial event in the film is a simple one: Lara's aunt, her father's sister, gives her a clarinet. This is a gift fraught with meaning. In a flashback, we see the father as a deaf boy, watching as relatives crowd around to applaud his sister's first clarinet recital. Frustrated, he gives voice to a loud, painful noise, and is banished to a bedroom. It is the kind of exclusionary wound that shapes a lifetime, and although the father and sister as children communicated effortlessly, as adults they are cool and distant.