The Silent Forest Review: Voiceless Performances Speak Volume In Gripping School Bully Drama
This powerful Taiwanese drama is up for eight Golden Horse Awards on Nov 21.
Starring Liu Tzu Chuan, Buffy Chen Yan-Fei, Kim Hyun-Bin, Liu Kuan-Ting
Directed by Ko Chen-Nien
Based on a true scandal that rocked Taiwan a decade ago, Ko Chen-Nien’s gripping debut feature is a thinly-veiled monster movie set in remote school for the deaf and mute. The beast here is school bully Xiao Guang (Kim Hyun-Bin), the mastermind behind a spate of sexual assaults of his classmates. For years his reign of terror goes unchecked and unreported while his victims suffer in silence (literally and metaphorically). When Xiao Guang threatens the blossoming relationship between frequent victim Bei-Bei (Buffy Chen Yan-Fei) and new arrival Chang Cheng (Liu Tzu Chuan), the latter takes it upon himself to be her protector. The result is a searing essay on trauma, social isolation and bureaucratic indifference, with said young leads turning in rivetingly voiceless performances. (FYI: They are not hearing-impaired in real life — yes, they had us all fooled.) Liu Kuan-Ting — last year’s Best Supporting Actor Golden Horse Award Winner— stands out too, as the teacher who discovers the shocking truth behind the violence and abuse. The Silent Forest is hard to watch at times, but it’s also hard to forget. (****)
Photo: mm2 Entertainment