Movie Review: 'The Silencing' Is Peak Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

The Silencing Movie Poster Nikolaj Coster-Waldau Rayburn
Image by Saban Films
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau shines in this commendable entry into a rising sub-genre. “The Silencing” is “Wind River” meets “The Captive”/“Prisoners” and “Yellowstone.” That is a big compliment, especially within regards to the first and lastly mentioned Taylor Sheridan entries. If you thought Coster-Waldau was impressive on “Game of Thrones,” just wait.

The actor who sensationally brought Jaime Lannister to life for eight seasons has proven himself a dynamo in outsider roles through the years. In “The Silencing,” he plays Rayburn, a weary ex-hunter turned conservationist. Four years before the movie begins, Rayburn’s daughter Gwen was kidnapped. She has not been seen since.

The abduction has hit Rayburn and his relationship with alcohol even harder. He is haunted as he spends his days video monitoring the land, he now protects animals on. Where is the predator who preyed on his daughter? “The Silencing” stays mum on the answer as it introduces the new sheriff (Annabelle Wallis), her troubled brother (Hero Fiennes Tiffin), and several others.

In one of the best slow-burns in recent memory, “The Silencing” stays quiet long enough to literally feel the story get brought to a simmer before erupting into an unstoppable boil. Director Robin Pront (“Thieves of the Wood”) is masterful at pocketing his audience in a deliberate and evocative fashion.

This is an excellent showcase for Nikolaj Coster-Waldau who seizes the opportunity with tremendous zeal. You can see his wheels turn as Rayburn’s sobriety slowly takes hold, and he finds the purpose he has been needing. There are some breath-taking turns, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau remains present for all of them. His continual presence allows the audience to be on Rayburn’s side, and that is critical. 

In the acting department, Coster-Waldau is not alone in contributing. Annabelle Wallis makes you wonder why she is not the lead in at least one television series. In scenes with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, it is easy to wonder what Wallis’ Cersei would have been like if the timing had matched up more.

Meanwhile, Zahn McClarnon gets a much-deserved break from his typecasting in movies such as “Braven,” as the chief of police at the nearby Sawhill Reservation. McClarnon makes the most of it. “The Silencing” earns points for how it utilizes its cast in a script leaner in dialogue and heavier on expression.

“The Silencing” is about the hunt for a serial killer and, in that sense, it offers an absorbing mystery. In its pursuit, Micah Ranum’s script provides a far more satisfying yield on its investment than “Prisoners.” This is a thoughtful film that goes deeper than justice. It is also a character-driven drama about what it means to move forward in the aftermath of unthinkable sorrow.

If you have watched an episode of “Disappeared” or “Dateline,” you know this sort of tragedy is a sobering reality for many. “The Silencing” contemplates the various inferences of such a crime and the resulting ripple effect it has on the victim’s family and those of the suspect.

There are some tough questions posed, and hopefully, those watching wrestle with them. “The Silencing” is as philosophical as it is suspenseful, a combination that makes it more than worth the money spent to rent on Amazon. I have a feeling it will only grow more highly regarded with time.

Rating: 8/10