Silent Heart ~ A Non-Spoiler Review

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A photo montage of scenes from Silent Heart. Central image is the theatrical poster for the film


Silent Heart aka Stille hjerte (2014) is a Danish drama. 1 hr 37 min. Available on Prime Video U.K. to rent/buy (£0.99/£1.49), Prime Video US. Danish with subtitles (not embedded). 13+ Cert U.K.


“Three generations of a family coming together over a weekend. A sick mother’s wish to die before her disease worsens gets harder to handle as old conflicts come to the surface.” IMDb


Ghita Nørby as Esther
Paprika Steen as Heidi
Danica Curcic as Sanne
Morten Grunwald as Poul
Pilou Asbæk as Dennis
Jens Albinus as Michael
Vigga Bro as Lisbeth
Oskar Sælan Halskov as Jonathan


Director: Bille August
Writer: Christian Torpe
Cinematographer: Dirk Brüel
Music: Annette Focks
Editors: Anita Østerlund & Janus Billeskov Jansen

German theatrical poster for the film Silent Heart


In the soundtrack, the “Piano Concerto in F Major: LArgo Cantibile” by Haydn is used.

The Christmas dinner scene with the whole cast in Silent Heart


The small but impressive cast list, along with this being another award-winning film by the award-winning director Bille August, made it immediately appealing.

In many ways, this film feels like a stage production as almost all the action takes place in the house and its surroundings. The focus of the story is firmly on this somewhat dysfunctional family, their friends and a decision that has already been made. The emphasis is on dialogue rather than action and it is a simple story with some key characters.

Ghita Nørby (left) as Esther and Viggo Bro (right) as Lisbeth in a scene from Silent Heart

The performances in Silent Heart are all excellent, with some of the players having more to work with than others. Paprika Steen, Danica Curcic and Pilou Asbæk are the stand-out performances for me.

Danica Curcic (right) as Sanne and Pilou Asbæk (left) as Dennis in a scene from Silent Heart

The daughters’ attitudes and coping mechanisms (or ‘not coping’ in one case) are really well-conveyed and reasoned. Neither are particularly endearing, especially for the first two acts, but their actions are both understandable and interesting contrasts.

Paprika Steen (right) as Heidi and Danica Surcic (left) as Sanne in a scene from Silent Heart

The central theme of this film is euthanasia (assisted suicide) and it raises some challenging questions. Who gets to decide not being the least of them. Without spoiling the plot here, it is intriguing to see how and why some characters’ attitudes change. In this respect, it is an interesting and affecting watch.

Paprika Steen (right) Jens Albinus (centre) and Danica Curcic (left) in a scene from Silent Heart

There is humour in Silent Heart, which might sound crass, bearing in mind the situation, but it works well, not only because it is funny but also as a counterpoint to the tension and pervading sadness. Dennis is the catalyst for much of the humour, in part because he is not “walking on eggshells” with Esther, the dying mother, but also because he is the one with the reefers!

As to be expected from a Bille August movie, the visuals are strong, perfectly framed and lit. Do not expect unnecessarily gimmicky camerawork because you will not get it. The music is quite beautiful and atmospheric.

Morten Grundwald (Poul) and Ghita Nørby (Esther) in a scene from Silent Heart

Silent Heart is not a game-changing film about this subject. It does, however, resist any excessively melodramatic moments and its quiet stillness was a major plus point for me. This is a conversation starter and as a piece of character-driven drama works well.

I can recommend Silent Heart, with the proviso that if you love action and excitement then this is probably NOT the movie for you. This film does not outstay its welcome and there are some amazing individual performances.


6 wins and 15 nominations ~


Bodil Awards (2015)
Best Film ~ Bille August; Best Supporting Actor ~ Pilou Asbæk; Best Actress ~ Danica Curcic; Best Screenplay ~ Christian Torpe;

Robert Awards (2015)
Best Supporting Actress ~ Danica Curcic

San Sebastián International Film Festival (2014)
Best Actress ~ Paprika Steen


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