Sailing Down “The Silent River” Isn’t Easy…

26 Sep

Silent River (2021) - IMDbBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

L.A. Asian Pacifc Film Festival
Regal L.A. LIVE:
A Barco Innovation Center

Sept 25, 2021
5:30 pm

Spoiler Alert

Eliott (West Liang) looks like a man on the run in Chris Chan Lee’s Silent River. After a long drive into the Mojave Desert, he holes up at a motel and is simply waiting. While there, he meets Gretta (Amy Tsang) and she’s a mystery. Not only does she resemble someone he is looking for, but her agenda is straight out of time. She’s from the future and searching for Patrick. Their separate agendas collide, and their reluctance to help each other out makes for a very intriguing film.

Although this work is billed as science fiction, I’m enjoying the supernatural bits more. Eliott hears things, and he doesn’t know where they come from. He can see things others don’t, and we’re uncertain if he’s going crazy or not. Liang plays up the apocryphal Lovecraftian type of character, someone too curious for his own good; and the suggestion that others have “moved on” makes me think I’m watching a very unconventional ghost story.

When Gretta brings in an android, who looks like the man she’s looking for, the story gets weird. P2 (his name) isn’t who she wants him to be. Although he looks like Patrick and smells like him, everything he does (including a sexual moment) just doesn’t have the same weight. Eventually, it is revealed Eliott is also in search of his lady love and Gretta looks like her. They’re supposed to meet at this unknown motel he’s holed up in, and it’s well past their arranged appointment time.

The desert landscape is brought to life with a lot of colourful shots. There were times I thought I was looking at parts of Australia’s vast dry terrains and I suspect the implication of the land down under was on purpose. Gretta may well be from the spirit world of the Dreamtime instead of some far flung future. Eventually, she wants to bring Eliott home to her world, and all he wanted to do was make a clean getaway.

This film is simple enough to say it’ll be tough to escape bounty hunters, especially when they don’t have to be from the future. But as for whether Eliott can get away scot free, that’d be telling in this very Twilight Zone inspired work.

4 Stars out of 5

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