August 7, 2022
by Carla Hay
Directed by Diego Fried and Federico Finkielstain
Spanish with subtitles
Culture Representation: Taking place in an unnamed city in Argentina, the dramatic film “The Silent Party” features an all-Latin cast of characters representing the middle-class.
Culture Clash: On the evening before her wedding, a woman impulsively attends a silent disco party, where everyone is a stranger to her, and a heinous sexual assault leads to violent revenge.
Culture Audience: “The Silent Party” will appeal mainly to people who are interested in suspenseful movies that present provocative issues about victim blaming and getting justice in sexual assault crimes.
Some viewers might not like how “The Silent Party” has an ending that is open to interpretation. However, this suspenseful drama adeptly shows how people can perceive the same crime in different ways. The way that viewers might feel about this crime often mirrors how people feel about victim blaming and victim shaming in sexual assaults. “The Silent Party” was made to make viewers uncomfortable and to get people to think about how not all rapes start off as a forceful act.
Directed by Diego Fried and Federico Finkielstain, “The Silent Party” takes place in an unnamed city in Argentina. Fried co-wrote the movie’s screenplay with Nicolas Gueilburt and Luz Orlando Brennan. Does it matter if an all-male team of directors and writers make a movie about a woman who gets raped? It depends. In the case of “The Silent Party,” the filmmakers handle the subject matter with raw realism that is not exploitation.
“The Silent Party” starts off looking like it will be a movie about an engaged couple who will be getting married the following day. Laura (played by Jazmín Stuart) and her Brazilian immigrant fiancé Daniel (played by Esteban Bigliardi), nicknamed Dani, have arrived at the Hidden Moon ranch property that Laura’s father has inherited from Laura’s paternal grandmother. Laura and Daniel’s wedding and reception will be held at the ranch.
Laura and Daniel are both in their early 40s, and the movie never states what they do for a living. Laura’s father is named Dr. Leon Grandi (played by Gerardo Romano), but it’s never mentioned what type of doctor he is. However, Leon is a doctor who appears to still be working because his receptionist calls him at one point in the movie. Laura’s mother is not seen or mentioned at all. It’s implied that Laura’s mother hasn’t been in this family’s life for many years.
Leon mentions that all of his friends and colleagues are coming to the wedding, which will be an outdoor ceremony with about 100 guests. Laura (who is an only child) has bought a simple white dress for the occasion. Daniel sees that only 10 tables have been set up for the reception. He wonders aloud if those tables will be enough to accommodate 100 people. Leon tells him not to worry about it. Daniel is also much more preoccupied than Laura with the guest list, such as who confirmed their RSVPs and who didn’t.
In fact, Leon and Daniel seem to be more in charge of the decision making for this wedding than Laura is in charge. Laura acts as if she has let other people take care of most of the wedding planning. Even the way that she treats her wedding dress (she casually tosses it on a bed) seems to be in a nonchalant manner. Is she even excited about getting married?
Laura and Daniel have arrived at the ranch the day before the wedding. Most brides would make sure to check on wedding details, such where the bridesmaids are, the status of the catering preparations, and how the decorations look. However, Laura doesn’t seem curious about this information.
These are clues that Laura might be having doubts about whether or not she should marry Daniel. Viewers never find out how long she and Daniel have been a couple or other details about their relationship because this 87-minute movie is all about what happens in the present. And for now, although Laura and Daniel are not having any major arguments with each other, there seems to be some underlying tension in their relationship. For example, they bicker a little bit because Daniel thinks that Laura is drinking too much alcohol, while Laura thinks Daniel is being too uptight.
Not long after Laura and Daniel have arrived at the ranch, Leon is in an open field shooting a 9 millimeter handgun for target practice. Laura is nearby, so Leon tries to get Laura to shoot the gun too. It makes her uncomfortable, so she refuses. It’s at this point in the movie that you know that you haven’t see the last of this gun.
In this scene, Laura also visibly cringes when Leon says that he hopes that Laura has a daughter who is just like Laura. Her displeased reaction is a sign that Laura has some resentment for Leon’s presumptions about Laura’s family planning decisions. He doesn’t seem to care what Laura wants when it comes to family planning. Viewers shouldn’t assume what Laura’s plans are either, because when or if Laura wants to be a parent is never mentioned in the movie. Although Leon appears to be a loving and protective father to Laura, he makes some other comments in other scenes that show he has very sexist beliefs on what women can and can’t do.
When Laura and Daniel get settled into their bedroom at the ranch, Laura makes some amorous moves on Daniel, but he seems too distracted and nervous to get intimate. Daniel explains that he doesn’t feel comfortable doing anything sexual while Laura’s father Leon might be in a nearby room. Laura looks hurt by this rejection, so she leaves the house to go for a walk in the woods that surround the ranch property. It will turn out to be a fateful decision.
During her walk at sunset, Laura sees a silent disco party happening in an open field. There are about 40 people at this party, which is attended mostly by people in their late teens to mid-20s. Laura doesn’t know anyone at this gathering. The party is hosted by a neighbor whose name is later revealed to be Maxi Navarro (played by Gastón Cocchiarale), who sees Laura hesitantly wandering around and is the first person to greet her. Maxi smiles and offers her a pair of headphones and a drink to join in on the party.
It’s unknown if the drink that Maxi gave to Laura was laced with any drugs. But it isn’t long before she’s definitely in the party spirit and appears to have lost her previous inhibitions, because she is dancing as if she doesn’t have a care in the world. As the party goes on, nightfall arrives, and Laura shows no signs that she wants to leave. Maxi and his friend Gabo (played by Lautaro Bettoni), whose real name is Gabriel, begin dancing with Laura, with Laura in the middle of the two men.
However, Laura is only attracted to Gabo, who has an athletic body and a handsome face. By contrast, Maxi has a chubby body and average-looking face. Laura and Gabo begin kissing each other passionately. And then, Laura and Gabo both go together to a more secluded area in the woods. Anyone watching them might assume that Laura and Gabo want privacy because they’re going to get more sexually intimate in a consensual encounter.
The next scene shows Laura going back to the party area alone, while she looks dazed and disheveled. She doesn’t speak to anyone as she leaves the party and walks back to the ranch. It’s obvious that something very wrong has happened. “The Silent Party” shows in flashbacks that Laura was raped. Who raped her and what happened after the rape won’t be revealed in this review.
However, it’s enough to say that Laura doesn’t stay silent about being sexually assaulted. And it leads to a series of events that exemplify how patriarchy, definitions of sexual consent, and what it means to “get justice” all play a role in decisions made by the characters who know about Laura’s rape. Maxi and Gabo have two friends from the party named Alex (played by Hudson Gomes De Oliveira Santana) and DJ (played by Diego Heck Dos Santos) who are among these characters.
The acting performances in “The Silent Party” get the job done well enough, considering that the movie’s characters don’t have a lot of background information. Early in the movie, before the scene where Laura ends up at the party, Leon tells Daniel a story about how when Laura was 13 years old, she was on a camping trip with Leon and four of her friends. Laura disappeared for a few hours. And just as Leon was about to report Laura missing, she was found.
When 13-year-old Laura was asked where she was during the period of time when people couldn’t find her, Laura said that she was somewhere “contemplating the river.” As an adult, Laura tells Daniel and Leon that she doesn’t remember this incident. It’s the movie’s way of saying that Laura blocks out certain childhood memories, and she has a history of wandering off for a few hours without telling people where she’s going, which is exactly the set of circumstances that led her to be at the party in the woods.
The standout characteristics of “The Silent Party” are how it builds tension and how it reveals the story in layers. The movie also looks authentic in showing the chaos that can ensue when people act out of blind rage or panic. Because the revenge part of the story unfolds in “real time,” viewers are taken on a fast-moving journey where the characters can’t or won’t take the time to really think about the consequences of their actions. The movie’s open-ended conclusion seems to deliberately hold up a proverbial mirror to viewers, in order to reflect people’s feelings on what they think should happen next in this brutal revenge story.
Outsider Pictures released “The Silent Party” on digital and VOD on July 12, 2022.