Oh, Margot, I so wanted to like this documentary. I like Margot Nash. She’s a Melbourne filmmaker who was a bolshie anarchist feminist in the 70s and has made or written several films, such as Vacant Possession in the 90s, which I remember enjoying.The Silences is a memoir about her family, in particular her parents who both suffered mental illnesses at a time when it was not spoken of. We find out about her mother’s ambition to make something of herself, to be part of the upper class, to perform on stage, and her lifelong disappointment when none of this was realised. Margot and her sister had a difficult upbringing, where there were many secrets and their father was unstable and often paranoid. This is described well through photos interspersed with clips from Margot’s films, which all seem to be based on aspects of her family and childhood experiences.
About half way through the film we discover that Margot has an older sister that no one ever speaks of and the second half of the film explores this. This is where I felt let down and it became increasingly mawkish. The story of Felicity is an interesting and poignant one, but we find out little about the facts and instead follow Margot and her sister Di on an indulgent and sentimental journey, devoid of anything other than emotional substance. The filmmaker, again, inserting themselves into the story and obscuring their subject.