Written and directed by David Colombo-Léotard, Silent Anger (Original title: Les Poings serrés) is a moving and thought-provoking exploration of a young boy’s experience with abandonment.
In the film, Théo Van de Voorde delivers a stunning performance as Julian, a 12-year-old boy who becomes separated from his father in a busy supermarket. His efforts to find him are in vain. Then Julian makes a decision and tries to carry on with his daily life as usual, while maintaining a façade of normalcy. However, an unmistakable sense of fear and vulnerability is visible beneath his calm exterior.
The film does an excellent job of conveying the boy’s emotional turmoil through subtle facial expressions and body language. As the days pass, the boy’s isolation and loneliness become increasingly palpable. He tries to fill the void by exploiting his newfound freedom, but a sense of danger lurks in the background.
In Silent Anger, the camerawork and framing convey Julian’s stress and vulnerability. Tracking shots, close-ups, and selective focus convey Julian’s perspective and immerse the viewer in his world. The use of slow motion in some of the scenes is also very effective.
One has to pay close attention to the action on the screen to understand the motivation behind Julian’s actions and, even then, no easy answers are provided. This open-endedness allows for various interpretations and adds more complexity to the story.
Although identifying with Julian may be difficult, the viewer can sympathize with his unfortunate fate because of Théo Van de Voorde’s outstanding performance and appealing features. A powerful but ambiguous climax makes Silent Anger a powerful Coming-of-Age story. I highly recommend it.