Not a Word

by Hanna Slak

On a barren island, a mother and son confront years of silence and misunderstandings in writer-director Hanna Slak's formidable fourth feature film starring Maren Eggert, scored by Amélie Legrand, and shot by Claire Mathon.

When Nina finds out that her teenage son Lars has been injured in an accident at school, she is faced with a dilemma: Can she leave behind the rehearsals with her orchestra in order to be there completely for him…in a situation that could be a life-changing moment? The decision she makes is a compromise: for five days, she will leave Munich to take Lars on a getaway, to the island in western France where they usually spend their summer vacation — a place full of fond memories and significance to Lars. In winter, however, the island is no vacation paradise, but windy, dark and cold. In the small house on the beach, mother and son are forced to face each other. Thoughts of music haunt Nina, the calls from the mainland worry her. Is she just sabotaging her career, which she has fought so hard for…and for what? Lars withdraws further every day. Misunderstandings multiply, suppositions turn into suspicions: Was Lars a witness to a gruesome crime at school? Did he even participate in it? When a winter storm cuts the last connection to the mainland, a dangerous confrontation ensues.

Genre / Language / Length
Drama / German, French / 87 minutes
Original title
Kein Wort
directed by
Hanna Slak (Slovenian Oscar Entry THE MINER)
director of photography
screenplay by
Hanna Slak
produced by
VOLTE in co-production with Ici et Là, Tramal Films and with Bayerischer Rundfunk, Arte, RTV Slovenia in collaboration with FS Viba Film, The Cash Rebate Scheme from the Republic of Slovenia, Magic Media Production.
  • Jona Levin Nicolai (THE NET, Netflix's THE GRIMM REALITY)
  • Maryam Zaree (4 BLOCKS, UNDINE)
  • Juliane Siebecke
  • Mehdi Nebbou (DEUTSCHLAND 86, MUNICH)

Press Quotes

“A compelling and efficiently moody thriller”
“Slak keeps an enigmatic air.”
“The film succeeds in keeping the audience just as off balance and uncertain as Nina.”
“Their spiky tête-à-têtes — Eggert and Nicolai finding an easy rhythm in their dysfunction — are the core of Not A Word”
“Just when it seems Not A Word will remain out of grasp, keeping its secrets close to the chest, its series of escalating events elegantly find a resolution...”
The Film Verdict

“thoughtful, sensitive direction”
“The performances and Slak's direction sell it.”
“Slak's blocking in Not a Word is exceptional.”
“Eggert is such a compelling performer that she makes the scenes of Nina and Lars not talking to one another full of tension.”
“Shot by the always excellent cinematographer Claire Mathon 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire', the stormy island with its grey skies and harsh, rocky landscapes provides the necessary pathetic fallacy for the quietly stormy relationship.”
“beautifully shot, acted, and constructed.”
“Anyone with the good sense to give Maren Eggert a starring role … is someone who knows what they're doing.”
Seventh Row

„Not a Word is a modern parent-child take on Wuthering Heights"
"This stormy natural backdrop... is palpably captured by seasoned cinematographer Claire Mathon - Spencer, Portrait of a Lady on Fire.““Mahler's Symphony No 5 is woven in throughout the film, musically mirroring the pivotal mother-son relationship. ...taps into the expansive emotional canvas... Slak approaches this with a restrained tone, eschewing overt on-screen melodrama.”„The unspoken and implicit elements add important layers of tension. Equally haunting and hopeful, the movie reaffirms Slak's prowess in rendering tempestuous emotional journeys on screen.“

“A mood piece that speaks volumes.”„Slak's mastery over her craft creates a palpable atmosphere.“"The dialogue is heartbreaking and realistic – the conversations between the two central characters are so authentic and well-written that they make you, as a viewer, gradually understand how they function together and eventually feel part of their relationship."“The performances of the two central characters are so beautiful, with Maren Eggert's performance already being right up in there amongst my favorite film performances of all time.”
"When hopeful gleams reveal themselves, the ingenious stylistic conceit of Not a Word is the symphony going on in her head – at first a work product, but subsequently giving shape to her relationship with Lars." “The film delivers a profoundly haunting visual experience."
High On Films

“A fabulous classical music score”
Movie Jawn

"Psychologically profound““Maren Eggert delivers a quietly moving performance... In his feature debut, actor Jona Levin Nicolai portrays Lars with an unsettling amount of emotional detachment that elicits both intrigue and unease.”
“While the performances are the heart of Not a Word, the film's technical elements serve as the framework that holds it all together, amplifying the emotional weight of the narrative. With an all-star crew on board, all technical elements seamlessly work together to elevate the narrative to even greater heights.”
“Slak uses a phenomenally composed classical score by Amélie Legrand... Meanwhile, celebrated cinematographer Claire Mathon, renowned for her visually rich work on “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”..., takes a more classical approach in this film, expertly capturing the muted and cold tones of seaside commune Locmaria, France... Finally, the film's precise editing by Bettina Böhler, known for her striking work with auteurs like Angela Schanelec and Christian Petzold, emphasizes the immediate consequences of every action, adding weight to every significant movement and a new layer of depth to the narrative.”
“The ability of Slak to convey the underlying emotional landscapes and the tragic consequences of characters struggling to navigate them is truly remarkable. Through her masterful direction, she delves deep into the psyches of her characters."
Obviously Reviews

“Beautifully shot, acted, and constructed.”Seventh Row"Even with just the raw materials, Not A Word would make for a captivating drama, but in arousing all the senses, it becomes a full-body experience.“
Moveable Fest

“An intelligent film.”
“ The beauty of the deserted island turns to fearful desolation as storms approach, and the wild wrath of the seas and winds matches the uncontained fury between the main characters.”
“Eggert and Nicolai's key performances focus the film, centering it in the middle of storms, both emotional and literal.”
“The artful cinematography, ranging from the intimate surroundings of a dense cityscape to the windswept rocks of the holiday island, provides the final piece of the puzzle.“

Selected Festivals & Awards

Toronto International Film Festival
Warsaw International Film Festival
Mostra Sao Paulo International Film Festival