Strong performances and production help The Silent War, aka Sordo, stumble through a meandering second half, but only die-hard fans of the Western genre need apply.
Sordo translates to “deaf”, which is as fitting a title as any for Alfonso Cortés-Cavanillas’ The Silent War, in which a revolutionary accidentally deafened during a sabotage mission takes on Franco’s forces during Operation Reconquista, a week-long mission by maquis guerrillas to wrest back territory in postwar Spain.
Based on the comic by David Muñoz and Rayco Pulido, published in 2008, The Silent War plays up the Western in its aesthetics and structure, which fits the material well enough. It’ll be those fans of classic John Ford and Sergio Leone pictures who are most likely to gravitate to Sordo and stick with it through an overlong and meandering second half; by the time the appearance of a Russian mercenary is straining credibility, detractors will have likely jumped ship.
An admittedly handsome film with careful production and skilful use of sound, or as is often the case the absence of sound, there’s plenty to like in The Silent War. Its performances, too, are noteworthy, particularly Asier Etxeandia as the lead Anselmo. But it’s much too long and, after a while, starts to lose focus, wavering between ideas and points without much care for an audience attempting to follow along. Now on Netflix internationally, a wide audience can see for themselves, and one assumes get as annoyed as I did at the unnecessary use of parentheses in the English title.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.