Lowe at a Low Point
Over the years I have watched a surprising number of TV movies which are about teen suicide and it is an important subject that I have to say deserves plenty of attention. But where many of the movies have been very much focussed at a teen audience "Silence of the Heart" is a movie which is worth the whole family seeing. I say this because "Silence of the Heart" shows two sides of the subject and even if you struggle to understand why someone would want to kill themself this movie highlights the warning signs and also details the grief afterwards. And considering "Silence of the Heart" is a movie which is a product of the early 80s it has stood the test of time well with just the fashions, hair and soundtrack making it feel dated.
Skip Lewis (Chad Lowe - Fielder's Choice) is a troubled teen; his SAT scores are not high enough and the girl he has a crush on tells him she doesn't think of him that way. Depressed by his life and in the belief his parents don't understand him he visits his best friend Ken (Charlie Sheen - Scary Movie 3) and sort of tells him that he plans to kill himself before then driving his car off the cliff. Following his funeral Ken struggles with the feeling of guilt whilst his parents refuse to believe his death was anything but an accident whilst his sister Cindy (Dana Hill - National Lampoon's European Vacation) in looking for answers comes to realise that it was anything but an accident.
So as I said "Silence of the Heart" covers two sides of the story with the first side being all about the depression which Skip falls into leading up to his suicide. We see the various things which lead to him feeling worthless; the poor test scores, the romantic rejection and the feeling of his parents not only not understanding but too busy in their lives. But we also see the signs and this is the most important part from Skip asking Ken what he would do if he was going to commit suicide would he tell anyone to the change in attitude towards his sister when he hands over his beloved music collection just because. This along with a sensitive and at the same time entertaining performance from Chad Lowe makes the first side tick.
The other side of the movie focuses on the way Skip's friends and family deal with their grief. We see how Ken feels guilty for not doing anything, for thinking Skip was just joking to how his sister Cindy, brilliantly played by Dana Hill, realises there is more to Skip's death and feels that others should be upfront and open about their feelings. We also get to see how the death affects Skip's parents, in denial and in the case of his father keeping busy in order not to have to deal with it. There is a really touching and powerful scene where we see his mum Barbara wake up refreshed and smiling from what must have been a good dream and the realisation of Skip's death hits her and we see the radiance just drain out of her. Ironically whilst this second side is basically about the family and friends accepting that Skip killed himself it is the eye opening look at the grief they feel and the way they deal with things which makes it work.
What this all boils down to is that "Silence of the Heart" is a very good movie about teen suicide but one which works for the entire family. From highlighting the signs of a depressed teenager to the look at grief and denial it is an insightful look whose only fault is that it is stylistically dated being a product of the 80s.