directed by Joshua Oppenheimer
by Bill Chambers Joshua Oppenheimer's The Act of Killing is devastating because it doesn't offer any moral opposition to the glibly boastful first-hand accounts of Indonesian death squads; and his The Look of Silence is devastating because it does. A B-side to The Act of Killing but no mere Blue in the Face afterthought, The Look of Silence follows Adi, a 44-year-old door-to-door optometrist whose senile father is 103 and whose mother improbably claims to be around the same age. The father has forgotten but the mother has not that Adi was preceded by a brother, Ramli, who was killed during the "communist" purge (the picture reiterates that anyone who didn't immediately fall in line with the military dictatorship was tarred with the same brush, regardless of political or religious affiliation)--though "killed" somehow undersells his execution, a two-day ordeal that culminated in Ramli's castration. Adi watches Oppenheimer's footage of the murderers describing his brother's death in that animated, kids-playing way familiar from The Act of Killing, though these are not the same two "actors" who appeared in that film, underscoring that a desensitization to the atrocities committed has happened on a national, not individual, scale.