The Mongolian film industry may not be the easiest one to access in European countries but the distribution company Mongol Films is trying to shake things up. The business’ goal is to “build a strong relationship between Mongolian and international film industry”[1]. The international audience might miss a few layers and a few nuances because of a lack of knowledge of the Mongolian society. Nonetheless, the stories apply to human beings in general. That is part of what makes art, from everywhere and from all times, magical and meaningful.

“The Silent Souls” depicts the journey of a couple that has been married for 5 years and that moves to a remote city. It’s winter, it’s cold. Their new place clearly isn’t as luxurious as the previous one. The husband is a doctor and is pursuing research on an obstetrics and gynaecology bacteria. He is not very participating, not very openly loving, not very flexible in the marriage relationship. The movie hints that the reason behind his cold behaviour is to be found in his past and the fact that he was never taught how to act differently. On the other hand, the wife, Amin, tries to have him open up and invest the home (literally and metaphorically). Little by little, she slowly gives up and shuts herself off. They love each other, hate each other, split up, get back together, are a strong yet very fragile and dysfunctional couple. The 2018 feature is the story of a couple that drifts apart, that loves each other but can’t communicate, that wants to split up but where no one can actually leave the other.

Visually, the movie is a surprising blend of TV melodrama and more naturalistic movies. Indeed, it sometimes uses the melodrama tropes: lighting, make up, close-ups and stirring music. On the other hand, the movie mostly displays naturalistic elements. The lighting is, most of the time, natural. There are many wide shots (worth it, even just to have a look at the scenery), a few closeups profiles. The pace is slow. These elements bring in a naturalistic aspect to the film.

The two main characters are intense, especially the wife. The performance of Dolgor Oinbayar is impressive. Her character is intense, strong and broken. The actress manages to transmit Amin’s varied facets to the viewers.

In conclusion, “The Silent Souls” is a touching film, and could be a good introduction to the Mongolian cinema.


[1] See their website : https://www.monfilms.com/

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