Parents' Guide to

The Look of Silence

By Alistair Lawrence, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Indonesian genocide docu sequel has graphic descriptions.

Movie PG-13 2015 103 minutes
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The Look of Silence is the second documentary from Joshua Oppenheimer about Indonesia's mass killings during the 1960s and leaves an even more lasting impression than his first film. It might lack the spectacle of its predecessor, The Act of Killing, but it does take a more balanced approach to investigating the impact of an atrocious military coup that has left its scars on Indonesian society. At the center of the movie is Adi Rukun, whose quiet dignity powers its most memorable scenes. Ageing mass murderers from his region tell him stories about the killings in which they either took part or oversaw, which include the murder of Rukun's brother.

As before, Oppenheimer lets the camera linger on the participants' reactions, a technique he overuses to the point where it is often tedious rather than compelling. But unlike in The Act of Killing, here we see a range of emotional responses play out, from agitation to denial, anger, and grief. The Look of Silence also includes more detail about the West's complicity in the killings. News footage of an American journalist casually accepting a state propagandist's version of events feels almost surreal. As before, things are left open-ended and with no easy resolutions in sight, but then maybe that's the point.

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