40 days of silence tells the story of four women in different age groups during key moments of their life. This film has an all woman cast with no men present and yet their presence is constantly felt in the film. This is what I think director Saodat has done brilliantly.
In Uzbekistan it is a known tradition to take a vow of silence for various reasons such as being pregnant, losing a relative or even the change of weather. This film follows Bibicha a young girl who has just taken the vow of silence after loosing her aunt.
The film looks into traditional cultural conventions, which might make it a little strange for modern audiences, but what the director does is use all cinematography to tell the story beautifully. The cinematography of this film is captivating, which is also helped by the location. It is used to emphasize the loneliness of the character.
With all this having been said the story in the film does move along very slowly. It felt like sometimes the director was so concerned with all the beautiful cinematography that the story was neglected, which you can’t do, if your main character has just taken a vow of silence. It felt like there should have been more time for the audience to build a relationship with Bibicha. This makes it hard for us to follow her when we don’t really know her; it also leads to confusion as to who the main character is as the grandma ends up doing most of the talking. At the end of the film she is the character we know the best.
New director Saboth has definitely touched on how to tell traditional stories in a modern way and it will be good to see where she goes from this.