“Silent Beauty” has very few moments of beauty in it and what beauty there is displaced by a monstrous chain of pedophilia.
Director Jasmin Mara López is on Facebook one day and a picture of her grandfather with her niece explodes bringing to her the necessity of telling family members she was repeatedly abused by her Baptist preacher grandfather starting at age 10. As she tells her story a sordid history of her grandfather’s pedophilia expands to cover relatives and goodness knows who else. He denies it saying God will judge us and other anti-avoidance blather.
López spent 24 unsuccessful years trying to forget but when such a betrayal strikes forgetting is not a healthy option. She asks her grandfather for an apology but it does not come. As López recounts her story to family members she discovers she is not the only victim.
Pedophilia affects not only its direct victims but spawns destruction and pain in relationships. There is the fear of speaking out and destroying the status quo perhaps more relevant for a child as opposed to an adult. There is a feeling amongst victims there was no one there to support them. In some cases the young mind finds fault with itself as opposed to rightfully blaming the pedophile.
Once she unburdens herself López begins to find beauty in herself. She accepts what happened to her and that is the first step in her healing. Forgiveness is the next step but sometimes the evil is so overwhelming forgiveness is too much to ask. At the end of the day López understands why her grandfather was a pedophile and that may leave you with a wide-open mouth but thinking about that may lead you not to be surprised.
And her sister reveals her father sexually abused her. What dirty laundry starts spilling out of the hamper!
You may struggle to find any beauty in this horrific story other than in “coming out” López begins to discover her own beauty that her grandfather robbed her of. There is also beauty in the relationship she has with her niece Amelia as she says she wants to be there for her as no one was there for her for so many years. There is also the beauty of the undulating waves that appear throughout the documentary almost as part of the documentary’s need to present its painful web punctuated by breaks of calming waves lest the viewer be swept away in despair.
A very painful and personal journey taking courage to share and we should be glad she did share it.
The film is part of the Toronto Hot Docs Festival and shows in theatre May 3/7 and streams geoblocked in Canada from May 4-8.
RKS Film Rating 83/100.
You can see a trailer here https://www.silentbeautyfilm.com/sample