Black Wedding (2015)

Black-Wedding is a dark comedy which has sound, but no dialogue. Technically that makes it a sound-effect comedy, but I am not sure it entirely fits the bill (more on that later).

+++ The story revolves around a married couple and, to an extent, their teenage daughter. They no longer communicate with each other at all. We don’t know for how many years husband and wife have been married, but they must have been happy once. Now the theatre director and his opera singer wife have nothing but disdain for each other, and their small, annoying habits drive each other insane. Indifference and disdain at times turn into seething hatred which boils over and expresses itself in acts of vandalism in which they damage each other’s possessions. +++

Black Wedding is the brainchild of Thomas Bohn, who wrote, directed and produced it.
Bohn is working as a writer and director on German TV-productions and has found a particular foothold in the country’s famous Tatort franchise, a feature-length crime procedural show.

As I said, this is technically a sound-effect comedy, just like Simon Simon or The Plank. But I feel that in those “traditional” sound effect comedies the sound is more or less incidental. It accompanies the story. In Black Wedding, the sound is an important part of the plot. The things that this married couple find annoying about each other have to do with the annoying sounds they create (think: chalk-on-blackboard). And on most occasions that have to do with these annoying sounds or the sounds of their tit-for-tat vandalism, the actors’ faces react to the sounds we hear. So that makes their job somewhat easier than if they had to transmit all their feelings, etc., to the audience without any context. That is not meant to take away from the achievements of the actors here; and of course traditional sound-effect comedies also have lots of context, even if that is more visual than acoustic. But still, it is a significant difference in the general approach and therefore – I assume – the writing and directing process.

Nevertheless, what old-timey silent films, traditional sound-effect-comedies, and this modern “comedy without dialogue” all have in common is the necessity to act without words, which is a challenge for the actors but also for the directors and writers.

That being said, the writer/director Thomas Bohn at least made his life easier by creating a premise that is an easy sell: the people in this family no longer talk to each other, so the complete lack of dialogue feels almost natural.

Apart from a few small, supporting roles, there are the two main characters (played by Beate Maes and Diego Wallraff) and the supporting role of the teenage daughter (Mersiha Husagic). The performances of the cast are very good, and they deal with the challenge of dialogue-free acting without any problems.
The film also benefits from precise sound mixing and editing, as well as good cinematography.

There are really only two problems I have with this film.
For one, the whole silent acting thing is only really clever and impressive as long as two people share the screen and their communication takes place without words. As soon as only one character is on screen, it becomes far less impressive; and there are too many very long sequences in this film in which a character is alone. It is, of course, also an important skill for any actor to be able to use their face and body to “express” something when they are on screen alone (in any film, not just “silent” ones), but still: in the context of this film, the solo-scenes are less interesting.
The other problem is that with its 70 minutes running time the film is simply too long. You never get bored, but looking back you realise that the story could probably have been told in half the time. And the premise as such is also more suitable for a short-film anyway.

Still, Black Wedding is fun and undeniably impressive, so I’ll rate it at 6.5 to 7.0 out of 10.

Please note that my rating is probably influenced by the fact that I only paid 1.- Euro for the DVD; I might have had a more negative view if I had paid 10.-, for example. Speaking of which: since the film is entirely free of dialogue, anyone who wants to see this film and is able to play a region-2 disc can simply grab the German DVD.


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