The Silent Child

The Silent Child

Chris Overton (2017)

20min
U Certificate
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Review

Our Score
This righteous, thought-provoking British film - surprise winner of best live action short at the 2018 Oscars - is a particular triumph for actor/writer Rachel Shenton (perhaps best known for her three-year tenure as Mitzeee in perennial soap Hollyoaks). She plays saint-like social worker Jo from her own screenplay about a nuclear family's failure to communicate with their profoundly deaf four-year-old, Libby (beautifully portrayed by Maisie Sly, who's deaf herself). Her family goes about its routine business ("Pip has ballet, Seb rehearses with the choir") while she gazes dependently at the TV in the corner. Hassled mum Sue (Rachel Fielding) shouts goodbye from across the room, forgetting her daughter can't hear. Conversely, Jo patiently teaches the child to sign and, miraculously, she is silent no more. Director Chris Overton creates jarring impact with subtle touches; switching to Libby's perspective as she watches the family banter over breakfast in total silence. Also when Libby first mouths "orange", it's picked out in colour in hitherto white subtitles. Though the crisp exteriors are located in the Staffordshire countryside, The Silent Child is misleadingly bucolic and has a sting in its tale. It's a message movie, but a heartfelt one, reminding us in the end that deafness is not a learning difficulty.

Summary

Busy parents Sue and Paul decide to get help from social worker Joanne to prepare their youngest daughter Libby, who is deaf, for the big step of going to school for the first time. Joanne and Libby bond almost immediately, with Joanne beginning to teach a responsive Libby British Sign Language, but Sue is concerned that Libby focuses on lip reading. Maisie Sly plays the youngster in this Oscar-winning short film written by co-star Rachel Shenton and directed by Chris Overton, both former cast members of Hollyoaks.

Cast & Crew

Libby Maisie Sly
Joanne Rachel Shenton
Sue Rachel Fielding
Paul Philip York
Nancy Anna Barry
Seb Sam Rees
Pip Annie Cusselle
Director Chris Overton
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColour
Drama