Parents' Guide to

The Place of No Words

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Dreamlike father-son drama deals with death and dying.

Movie NR 2020 95 minutes
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This drama is a touching, gentle exploration of a father and his young son exploring death, dying, and the afterlife. By design, there's not much plot development in THE PLACE OF NO WORDS, which switches between the fantasy realm that Mark and Bodhi are in and the reality of their day-to-day life with family and best friends. The movie has the dream-like, interior-world feel reminiscent of a Malick or Zeitlin movie. The dialogue focuses on the characters' parent-child relationship and the fact that the bravery they need in their fantasy life is also necessary in real life as they face Mark's illness. The cinematography is purposely hand-held, cinema vérité style, with editing that gives it an alternating ultra-realistic and dreamy style, depending on the sequence.

This is a movie that requires stillness and patience. It's going to speak more to viewers who understand the heartache of grief and loss. Some may jadedly consider it boring and amateurish, while others will find it a meaningful, emotional view of how even the youngest among us understand and perceive the sadness of anticipatory grief. Little Bodhi "knows" his father is sick but doesn't want to talk about it some days. Then other days he wants to know about the afterlife and what will happen when Daddy dies. Yes, the movie is slow, but it's also touching if you stick with it and appreciate the tremendous amount of family, particularly parental, love required to make it.

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