Review: The Silences

Margot Nash’s The Silences takes the form of a personal essay documentary, exploring what it means to grow up with secrets in the family, the complexity of familial relationships, and the all-encompassing nature of grief and trauma. In a series of vignettes drawing on family photographs, oral histories, letters, documentary footage and clips from her…

Margot Nash’s The Silences takes the form of a personal essay documentary, exploring what it means to grow up with secrets in the family, the complexity of familial relationships, and the all-encompassing nature of grief and trauma. In a series of vignettes drawing on family photographs, oral histories, letters, documentary footage and clips from her previous work, Nash weaves an emotionally rich and tender fabric of her life and family amid an atmosphere of repression, unacknowledged mental illness, and hidden histories. She masterfully portrays the confusion of not knowing through a series of constructed thematic opposites — past versus present, innocence versus corruption, concealment versus visibility, memory versus reality, love versus suffering, and perhaps most importantly, silence versus speech. By bringing to surface the silent grief buried within the history of her family, Nash opens an avenue for viewers to acknowledge and consider the ever-present reality of mental illness, violence, and death behind the facade of daily life. ‘The Silences’, while deeply grounded in Nash’s interiority and highly personal experiences, brings a touching universal story of humanity to the screen.

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