In Turkey a couple settle in for their wedding night rituals. The groom is an ageing man who has been weathered by the years and his bride is a young girl who can barely speak from fear. Their union is not one of love but has been dictated by their families in order to end an ancient blood feud between their clans. The couple have one simple task, before daybreak they must present the soiled sheets of their marital bed as proof that they have consummated their nuptials.
That is the plot in its entirety as over its agonising running time of just over ninety minutes Night of Silence takes place in real-time as we are stuck with the couple on their wedding night from the moment they are left alone together until morning comes and their union must be sealed for the sake of peace.
Their time spent together is filled with stilted conversation, the rearranging of items in the room, and endless postponing of the act they both fear. The tension created was almost too painful as I found myself terrified that any moment the young girl on-screen would be forced to become intimate with what seemed like a brute of a man. Somehow as they talked more and more I found myself sympathising for the man too. It became clear that this was not a fate he would have chosen for himself and that he had as much sympathy for his young bride as I did.
What started as a film about a defenceless young virgin trapped in a room with a drunk predator became a film about two people equally scared and trapped by circumstance. In its own slow methodical way Night of Silence was a well acted and carefully crafted character study that wouldn’t be out of place in the theatre.
I do hesitate to recommend this film however as beautiful as it may be Night of Silence is so slowly paced it is almost unbearable. There was a need for such a slow pace with a drama relying on increasing tension and the slow reveal of characters but ultimately it became uncomfortable and dangerously close to boring. If you have the patience to admire the simply artistry of film-making and acting then Night of Silence is for you otherwise I’d recommend seeking out a film with a little more to offer.