Art house films confound me at times. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. Damian K. Lahey’s Simple Like Silver works, and I’m at a loss to tell you why.
The film’s logline states, “Three lives intersect in unusual ways in this existential mystery.” Shot entirely in black and white, it opens with a young woman, Angela (Susanna Nelson), wandering along the Florida coast. Her voiceover (performed by Lacy Marie Meyer) explains that she was recently drugged and raped after meeting a man on an online date.
Then we follow Lucia (Christina Marsilach), an older Spanish-speaking woman exploring a small resort town. She was recently diagnosed with a terminal disease and encouraged to make the most of her remaining time on Earth. Though she’s always wanted to travel, this trip is bittersweet as she finds herself alone on vacation. Lastly, there’s Joe (Hudson Sims), who has become a prolific writer at a young age. His next project is a space odyssey.
As the film progresses, we are brought in on the minor touchpoints between these three characters. Lucia witnessed the murder of the younger woman. Angela served as a muse for Joe. It’s all interconnected in a weird but beautiful way.
“Three lives intersect in unusual ways in this existential mystery.“
The narrative plays fast and loose. I did mention this is an art-house film, right? The entirety of Simple Like Silver features our three characters walking, exploring, and wandering in and out of the small resort town. They are accompanied either by their inner monologues or by the beautiful soundtrack. There is a mystery to solve, but it isn’t the point. The existential nature of the characters and their plight is the focus.
Christina Marsilach is irresistible as the older lady. Though all of her dialogue was recorded in a studio, her presence on screen is subtly expressive. Hudson Sims delivers his lines flawlessly, but Joe is written much too mature for his age.
Simple Like Silver may not be for the average filmgoer, but I found it thoroughly engaging. Much of my appreciation of the film has to do with the cinematography by Alex Hornung. It’s beautiful. It’s art. The director of photography composes every shot beautifully and understands the principles of filming in black and white. Nothing is ever visually wasted.
At first glance, Simple Like Silver does not seem like a title I’d be particularly fond of or actively seek out. But, I sat there engaged with every moment of the film from the start. If you’re a fan of art-house cinema, this is a must-see.
"…it's beautiful. It's art."