A Tense Night
When I was just a movie lover I remember thinking some movies were amazing and would have rated them highly because of one thing the story. But now as a movie reviewer I find myself still getting carried away by a great story but having to take into consideration other things from the acting and camera work so some movies I would have once rated highly now I rate a little less highly. That brings me to "Silent Night" a movie with a brilliant story, inspired by true events but is let down slightly by other things.
With their home destroyed in the Balkan raid Elisabeth Vincken (Linda Hamilton - Sex & Mrs. X) and her young son Fritz (Matthew Harbour) make it out into the woods to the family hunting cabin. But shortly after they arrive 3 American soldiers barge in with one of them badly wounded. Untrusting of a German mother especially when she removes their weapons from the building things take an even stranger turn when 3 German soldiers show up and she does the same to them. An unlikely truce is formed as the Americans and the Germans agree to treat the cabin as Neutral territory as it is Christmas Eve but even then there is mistrust especially between Sgt. Ralph Blank (Alain Goulem) and Lt. Hans Klosterman (Martin Neufeld). But as enemies share rations and time they find a surprising compassion for each other.
So here we have a movie about an unusual truce which came during WWII when 3 American and 3 German soldiers ended up in a woodland cabin with a German mother and her young son on Christmas Eve. I don't know how much fact there is to the story presented in "Silent Night" but would hazard a guess a fair amount of what is presented is made up to deliver drama and entertainment. Elements such as Klosterman ominously challenging Elisabeth over why her son has not had his call up papers yet to an American and German soldiers outside using the latrine and ending up singing "Oh Christmas Tree" feel like they have been scripted rather than being real but these elements work. In fact there is a lot to "Silent Night" which works from the entertainment of these enemies sharing rations to the easy going nature of Pvt. Jimmy Rassi with his bag full of scrounged rations.
Of course any movie which features a truce between enemies and the war has a deeper meaning all about human kindness, how war is futile and how soldiers are not so different. All of which ...and her with her freckles and her temper. Oh, that red head of hers is no lie - The Quiet Man features and it comes across nicely especially as there is always that sense that things could boil over at any time between the men especially with Klosterman less willing to be at peace than the others.
But the trouble for me and why I don't rate "Silent Night" higher is that the production feels small. Director Rodney Gibbons has used that small perfectly to create atmosphere but the camera work lets it down, not terrible but it feels very limited. Thankfully the main performances from Linda Hamilton, Alain Goulem, Martin Neufeld and Romano Orzari are very good and they bring their characters to life.
What this all boils down to is that "Silent Night" is a movie with a very good storyline and a good message but lacks some of the production value to make it great.