Marlo (Martin Bruchmann) is a young man wandering around Berlin when his hand brushes against another guys as he crosses the street. Marlo decides to follow the man – even though he doesn’t seem to be sure why – who eventually approaches him and introduces himself as Kirill (Josef Mattes).
The film then follows their next few days together, where both men seem to want to fully connect but aren’t sure how. As they hang out Kirill reveals stories of how he was beaten up while visiting his grandmother in Russia, as well as the issues he has with his family, while Marlo attempts to understand and connect to this man he has an undeniable attraction to, even if it may be that neither have acted on it with a guy before.
The film’s title isn’t just a metaphor – although it may be more accurately titled ‘Inarticulate Youth’. Marlo and Kirill’s main issue isn’t so much their feelings for one another as the trouble they have communicating themr. While they are keen to hang out together, when they do they have trouble knowing what to talk about, and even when they are chatting it feels like they’re skirting around the sides of what they really want to be saying, leading to a series of non-sequiturs and loaded silences.
This gives the whole movie an undercurrent of sexual tension, as well as a slight sense of sadness that these are two people who seem somewhat disconnected from the rest of the world – Kirill moreso than Marlo – and that while they desperately want connection they aren’t sure how to get it. There’s a feeling that they are byproducts of growing up in an impersonal world, although many viewers will probably think the film takes things a little too far. After all, it’s initially difficult to understand why they’d want to hang out again after their initial meeting, as on the surface they don’t really seem to be getting on particularly well.
However if you look past this and engage with what they are saying, it raises some interesting ideas and thoughts about why these two people are drawn together. Do they feel this is their one chance and so will do anything to make it work? Is there really such a thing as love at first sight, and what would that actually look like? And perhaps most intriguingly, could their difficulty communicating be hiding the fact that one of them is more damaged than they may otherwise appear?
It’s an intriguing film, but not a particularly eventful one, and while sometimes quite sexy there’s not an awful lot to it plot-wise. Therefore some will undoubtedly find it a little dull, but it certainly rewards a bit of patience.
Overall Verdict: It may be difficult to understand why two men who can barely speak to one another are so drawn together, but by raising interesting ideas and getting you to care about the characters Silent Youth is pretty effective.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac