The Place of No Words movie review (2020)

Webber explained it to the site No Film School last year: “I thought, ‘Why don’t I create an environment that’s totally different, that allows us to completely inhabit these characters around real-life situations?’ And maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to really get real vérité on the screen. I wanted to show real emotions and real vulnerability. The type of movies that I respond to are the ones where I watch them and I’m like, ‘Something different is happening.’ I’m trying to do that by injecting a lot more truth into the storytelling process.”

What it means in practical terms has been that actors appear in his films as themselves, or at least playing characters whose names they share. And while the precipitating incident or situation that propels the narrative is fictional, their reactions and interactions are authentic, or “authentic.”

With 2014’s “The Ever After” and now this film, “The Place of No Words,” Webber centers the work around his family. That means wife Teresa Palmer, and in this film, their three-year-old son Bodhi Palmer. The situation being faced is a grave one.

This movie has a startling opening. It captures a young boy and an adult in a contemporary bedroom, having a conversation that features a good deal of nonsense words, and aside from the super-wide aspect ratio of the frame, looks pretty much exactly like any generic indie family drama you’d care to invoke. But there’s a sudden cut, to an epic view of a wide open sea, and a wide, long, rowboat. The man, played by Webber, now has a thick long beard (his hair and beard stylings in this movie are a lot, and I mean that literally) and is furiously hoisting oars as the child sits facing him while the sea roils noisily. Subsequent gorgeous shots suggest a Viking epic. (The cinematographer is Patrice Lucien Cochet, who contributes inspired work throughout.) As do the characters’ costumes: fur capes, elaborate leather boots, and swords. Soon as this pair reached land, they start climbing a mountain. Looks like maybe they’re headed to a photo shoot for a Led Zeppelin reunion album.

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