Netflix review: Yoo Ah-in shines anew in Korean indie crime drama 'Voice of Silence'

Fred Hawson

Posted at Apr 05 2021 06:59 AM

Netflix review: Yoo Ah-in shines anew in Korean indie crime drama 'Voice of Silence' 1
A scene from 'Voice of Silence'

An unlikely team of a religious old bachelor Chang-bok (Yoo Jae-myung) and his young mute assistant Tae-in (Yoo Ah-in) worked as the clean-up crew for gangsters. One day, their boss unexpectedly assigned them to take care of an 11-year-old kidnapped girl Cho-hee (Moon Seung-ah) while the ransom was being settled. They kept her in Tae-in's remote hovel where he lived with his much-younger sister Moon-ju (Lee Ga-eun). 

With the little girls present among gang members doing their dirty job, the overall premise can be very uncomfortable, but the mood was kept mostly light and (darkly) comic to diffuse this disturbing vibe. The fate of the girl Cho-hee may be uncertain, but given the personalities of Chang-bok and Tae-in were basically that of good people forced into this life of crime by poverty, we are somehow reassured by trusting that she will be kept safe by these men.

This was another Korean film where heartwarming moments were again so well-woven into the most unsentimental of situations. Cho-hee's scenes with Moon-ju, of older sister teaching a younger sister good manners and housekeeping skills were very sweet. Chang-bok's kind treatment of Tae-in as the son he never had that also felt uplifting despite the desperate and depressing conditions they existed in.

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Yoo Ah-in ("The Throne," "Burning," "#Alive") again displayed broad acting range with his wordless portrayal of the mute simpleton Tae-in. He only used his face and body to get the heart to shine through this gentle man involved with criminals. There was a sense of John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" here, with Yoo Jae-myung ("Stranger," "Life," "Itaewon Class") playing Chong-bok as George, with Tae-in as the clueless Lennie under his wing.

By the 11th hour, there was a late night encounter with a police officer that led to another kidnapping attempt in the morning which confused the flow of the story unnecessarily (for me at least). Just when you thought you had predicted exactly how that the ending would go, writer/director Hong Eui-ieong (in her feature film debut) still managed to throw us a curve ball and surprise us with her sense of justice and morality. 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."

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