The Silent Child Review
The Silent Child is a 2017 short film about a profoundly deaf four year old girl who is born into a middle class family where a caring social worker teaches her the gift of communication.
Perhaps the single most affecting aspect of Chris Overton’s latest short film The Silent Child is how it draws you into the world of a deaf child without feeling sentimentally contrived. There is a brief moment near the start where we are given a POV shot with no sound and it’s a numbing almost jarring transition, mostly because of how it places us firmly in the main character’s position.
We meet Libby (Maisie Sly), a five-year-old child who is totally deaf, the youngest in a family of three children to a middle class family who aren’t quite sure how to handle her, especially her mother (Rachel Fielding) who seems in a bit of denial that everything is okay. They hire a therapist named Joanne (Rachel Shenton) to help, and she introduces the girl to sign language, which stirs an awakening, however it creates tension as Libby’s parents don’t take to the progress.
Made to enlighten what is made to be a clearly troubling problem, The Silent Child manages to educate while at the same time, create a genuinely moving story. While the parents are drawn into a corner as the villains per se, they are not so heavy-handedly, instead seen as victims of a system that nearly funnels them to be so. As the face of the message, little Sly, who is deaf in real life, is wonderfully engaging. Overton, with writer Shenton, keeps her centered throughout, the world around her orbiting in muted characters, some who are with her and many who are not. With Joanne’s introduction, a new world opens up, and we see where Joanne’s influence reaches more than just Libby, having affect on her older brother, even as he is clearly smitten with the teacher.
In many ways, The Silent Child has an almost documentary feel to it, plotting us along a few significant landmarks in the journey of what we learn is the plight of all too many other children like Libby. Overton is careful to keep the message on point, that there are many who need to evolve, that decisions, often costly ones, are made of a necessity and build out of ignorance, leaving those too young to know, stuck in a cycle of isolation and futures uncertain. The Silent Child is a well-made and directed short with an ambitious call for change.
The Silent Child Review
Movie description: The Silent Child is a 2017 short film about a profoundly deaf four year old girl who is born into a middle class family where a caring social worker teaches her the gift of communication.
Director(s): Chris Overton
Actor(s): Rachel Shenton, Rachel Fielding, Anna Barry
Genre: Short, Drama