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By Jeremy Knox | July 20, 2006

Silent Years is about a Hawaiian girl’s abuse at the hands of the men in her life. It’s harrowing realistic stuff, but does it work as a film? Well… that’s where we run into trouble.

Stories about people with bad childhoods tend to have the same problems that stories about drug addicts have. No matter how different the autobiographical details are the overall plot unfolds in roughly the same way: A character suffers in a repetitive and destructive cycle over and over and over again until it either engulfs and destroys them or they wise up and get the hell out of the mess they’re in. Not to mention that the genre as a whole has pretty much been milked bone dry by all the Movies of the week and the Oprah specials and celebrity tell-all bios. I’m frankly amazed that the fabric of time and space hasn’t imploded under the weight of all that misery.

However, I’m giving good marks to this. It’s told in a unique way, with a constant narrator that accompanies us throughout the short, showing and telling us about how everyone in this 13 year old girl’s life is failing to prove themselves as the smallest bit human. From her boyfriend JimmyBoy whose aggressive nature combined with his hormones is a rape waiting to happen, to her uncle who hides his drunken bullying behind a mask of “protectiveness”. It’s told as angry poetry as we bear witness the terrible happenings.

Not my thing, but this is well made and the novel approach to the material gives it a freshness that it may not have had otherwise. It certainly helped make what could have been a depressing sad story into something much more engaging.

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