Taking the existence of God for granted, Silent Light (2009) is a truly religious picture—and a superlative one. In it, the head of a Mennonite family living in northern Mexico has confessedly fallen in love with another woman (“confessedly” because he told his wife about it). That the wife is as understanding and tolerant as she is just might strain credulity, but so be it. What’s important is Carlos Reygadas’s poetic filmmaking for the crafting of something spiritually, metaphysically meaningful.
The first half of this long film is partly about the illusion that sin is some kind of summum bonum—evident in the scene of outdoor smooching between the two adulterers. Assuredly the second half is about sin as well, but the theme of grace also emerges. The “silent light” of the title—since light never makes a sound, it must be a metaphor—is a divine miracle near the movie’s end. It may be a miracle hard to accept, but Reygadas is intimating that the concept of the Deity in control should not be hard to accept.
Silent Light is a Mexican film whose dialogue is in the Mennonite low German, or Plautdietsch, language.