The Place of No Words (2019) – Film Review


In The Place of No Words a young boy ventures into a fantasy world to deal with the reality of his father’s terminal illness.

The film is a thoughtful and honest take on familial struggles, focusing on 7-year old Bodhi and his relationship with his real-life father Mark Webber, who additionally directs, writes and edits the film, and his real-life mother Teresa Palmer. It’s a truly personal project for the family, and one I can imagine was tough to bring to life.

The trio of performances are excellent, and I hope that Bodhi Palmer’s acting career extends beyond films that star his parents. His acting is sweet and honest, perfectly capturing the film’s overall feelings of authenticity and tenderness.

From The Fall to A Monster Calls, The Place of No Words borrows from many fantastical tales in its exploration of illness and coping with the prospect of grief. The young Bodhi and his father embark on a mythical quest in a made-up world of monsters and fairies, as the pair ponder Bodhi’s future. As Bodhi finds his own path in the woodland, it is easy to spot the meaning for this in the real world and what it means for his life after his father’s passing.

I’m sure that escapism is something we’re all familiar with and The Place of No Words reminds us that there is nothing wrong with taking a break when reality becomes too harsh. The film shows that stories and fantasies are an important part of human nature and that we’re never too old to use our imaginations.

The film draws on questions surrounding what happens when we die, how to cope with terminal illness and the level of honesty that is acceptable when detailing death to a young child. Although the film doesn’t answer these questions – as there is no right or wrong answer – it leaves the audience to contemplate.

The film manages to be poignant and sentimental, without being melodramatic and is handled in a way that feels real and subtly heart-wrenching. It pulls at our heartstrings with its emotional dialogue that reveals the pain felt by the family, but it never feels overwhelming in its portrayal of death and what could come after.

The Place of No Words is an imaginative, if not wholly originally, exploration of grief, death and illness, that perhaps was made for the enjoyment of Bodhi more than anything. It doesn’t manage to match the level of emotion in similarly told stories like The Fault in Our Stars, Biutiful or even 50/50, but I can commend its desire to be understated, rather than a punch to the gut.

Director: Mark Webber
Stars: Mark Webber, Teresa Palmer, Bodhi Palmer
Runtime: 95 minutes
Country: USA

Film Rating: ★★★☆☆

Dazzler Media presents The Place of No Words on DVD & Digital from 5th July.

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