Silent movie

Eugene Carey explains why Norman should have got to know the mother-in-law first before inviting her to live in the marital home


A Silent Love
Federico Hidalgo
2004, ASL Film/Atopia
100 minutes (English and Spanish)

LATAMROB rating: ***

FORGET the problems caused to Cheryl Cole’s marriage by bringing the mother-in-law to live with her, and consider the case of Norman.

The Montreal film lecturer played by Noel Burton in A Silent Love is so happy to have his Mexican mother-in-law breathing down his neck, that he falls in love with her.

The strange love triangle that ensues in this light and interesting movie about loneliness and what remains unspoken in relationships can only be broken by Norman’s wife, Gladys (Vanessa Bauche).

After having been hooked up with her husband through an internet dating agency, that calculates for the couple a healthy 61 per cent chance that their marital relationship will prosper, Gladys insists that her mother (Susana Salazar) comes along. This not atypical Mexican arrangement would be too much for most Canadian men, but not mild-mannered Norman and the trio set up home at his apartment in urban, middle-class Montreal.

It soon becomes clear that all is not well as the laconic Norman fails to communicate any depth of feeling for Gladys, and she in turn fails to understand the need he has developed for his personal space over many years of being alone.

Attractive widow

As the relationship begins to founder, the loneliness of the mother-in-law Fernanda – an attractive widow quite unlike the battleaxe that most married men live in fear of – becomes apparent to Norman. His feelings for Fernanda grow as the distance between him and Gladys increases.

Inevitably, it all comes to a head and poor old Norman is left bemused and alone – perhaps a small price to pay for having to deal further with the emotional complexities of marriage and bought love.

Noel Burton gives a credible performance as the expert on silent movies, although one wonders why the director chose an Englishman for this role. Vanessa Bauche is also convincing as the wife, although she is unable to capture the prim, orderly manner of a character who is meant to be a former schoolteacher. Susana Salazar steals the show as the lost yet sensuous widow ripe for the attentions of a similarly lonely character.

Director Federico Hidalgo – himself a film professor in Montreal – has created an original and at times charming tale and A Silent Love provides an interesting take on loneliness and marriage, but it is nonetheless far too long and predictable.

Perhaps if Norman had been smart enough to consider the average looking suegra in the first place, none of this would have happened.

Eugene Carey is a journalist

Bookmark and Share