“The Price for Silence” is an independent film telling us the story of the Flynn family. Through the eyes of Kira Flynn (Lynn Mancinelli), who is returning home for her father’s funeral after an extended absence, we become witnesses to the atrocities caused by her family, as well those that they must face together. Estranged from her mother Shelia (Kristin Carey), Kira is stuck fighting alcoholism and apparent nymphomania with only her troubled brother Lucas (Emrhys Cooper) to confide in. Along the way, we find out what left Kira so unstable as all her remaining connections to sanity begin to fade.
“The Price for Silence” is not an easy watch. From the second we are introduced to Kira she is deeply damaged. She lies in bed with a woman whose name she cannot remember and spasms as she has a nightmare. Her state does not improve from this point. No explanation of Kira’s mental health is given to us until late on. We do not know why she distances herself from her mother, or why she is so prone to self-destruction. As such Kira to us is a very disturbed woman, whom we can only infer has faced something incredibly dark in her past that saw her remain away from home for so long.
This early portion of the picture has its issues. The film presents so much to us so quickly that it becomes a challenge to keep up. This makes the entire movie from the opening onwards feel as if it would have played better as a miniseries. The meagre budget clarifies why this would never be possible, but had it happened the story would have benefited. As a result, the pacing feels uneven, and constant allusions to Kira’s tragedy without a reveal is occasionally frustrating.
Forming authentic relationships within the family was imperative, and thankfully, that happens early on and steadies the ship slightly. Brother/sister relationships can be challenging to depict in the simplest of situations, here it must be done with a backdrop of mental distortion, and it still manages to work more consistently than any other aspect of the film. Lucas and Kira are rocks for each other throughout and work hard to help one another overcome their issues. If there is anything to be gained from “The Price for Silence” it is a reminder to have someone you can talk to and rely upon when you begin to struggle.
Unfortunately, their relationship dissolves in the final third of the film. From this point on “The Price for Silence” diverts fully into its worst tendencies. There is a new crisis behind every corner and it becomes entirely melodramatic. I wanted to empathise with these characters, but they entirely lost touch with reality and left me in no position to follow. Any emotional impact that begins to set in is demolished when an entirely new situation arises and drowns everything else out. It is impossible to understand what writer/director Tony Germinario was trying to accomplish here. The film is rocky all the way through but the bones to say something with this story were there. However, the narrative twists so much everything it had going for it is lost in the process, leaving it void of any meaningful message or insight.
The antagonists and cause of almost all the heartbreak are the vile father and son Richard (Richard Thomas) and Aiden Davenport (Jon McCormick), and it is these two which encompass the most prominent problem. Their performances are not the issue, each of theirs is two of the stronger in the film; it is how Germinario presents them to us. The most significant revelation is that Aiden perpetrated the most critical and vile act of all, that being what happened to Kira years ago. However, Richard plays the more classical role of the ‘villain’ with Aiden taking more of a side role. More than once, Germinario attempts to generate sympathy for Aiden in what are some of the most confounding scenes I have viewed all year.
Richard is a severely immoral and cruel person, but Aiden’s actions and approaches towards Kira throughout are so depraved that there was nothing to be gained by presenting him this way. He is a far more disturbing individual than his father, yet the film tries to tell us otherwise and provides no justification. There is nothing remotely likeable or relatable about Aiden Davenport, and Germinario acts like he does not know his character when being empathetic towards him. This depiction is a giant misstep that hurts the venture more than anything else.
I want to stress that the performances are respectable. None are entirely consistent, but in certain moments they manage to capture the grotesque mental toll grief can have on you under the bleakest circumstances. Mancinelli and Cooper are standouts. Both have moments where they consume the screen and try their hardest to draw empathy from the audience. The over the top theatrics does make for some missteps, but the cast avoids any significant pitfalls and carries it as best they can. Above all else, Germinario’s script is where “The Price for Silence” goes wrong; the performances are just its most notable victim.
Despite good intentions “The Price for Silence” is ultimately a melodramatic misstep for director Tony Germinario. A plethora of catastrophe means there is no time left to allow for any emotional exploration of the impact. If Germinario is fortunate enough to have the chance to direct another feature, I hope he manages to capture his vision more vividly than he has here.
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