THE PACT OF SILENCE is an astonishingly fine film that is one of the best French murder mysteries/gothic stories since DIABOLIQUE. The story is complex and unravels slowly and tensely. Gerard Depardieu (in one of his finest performances) plays a priest/physician with a past of his own who happens to be called to care for a young Carmelite nun with bizarre, recurrent abdominal pain and anxiety atttacks. Though the Carmelite order does not accept contemporary medicine, Depardieu follows the young nun, makes discoveries about her parents and finds that she has an identical twin sister who is in prison for alledgedly murdering a child under her care while baby sitting 10 years ago. There is a Mother Superior (the inordinately gifted actress Carmen Maura) who cares for the young nun (Sarah) and holds to beliefs that herbal medicine, especially as practiced by a shamanist women in Brazil, is the only means of curing Sarah's ills. At this point Depardieu's priest is commited to investigate the source of his patient's pain and is defrocked as priest for his efforts. Sarah's twin (Gaelle) is released from prison, and in fear and desparation finds succour in the kindness of Depardieu's Priest.
Once the twins know of each other's whereabouts the mystery grows thicker and the resolution of the impact of the 'pact of silence' between the twins is the climax of this thrilling film. To say more would lessen the effect of the movie. There is a powerful statement about taking responsibility for one's past, and the power of love that is the source of healing, and some very interesting insights into the Catholic Church and its Orders. Beautifully filmed in Paris and Portugal, the scenery and camera effects are majestic, the use of flashbacks to provide the past history of each of the characters is subtle and very well done, and the acting is homogeneously excellent. The twins are played by young French actress Elodie Bouchez and her ability to find the separate identities in the identical twins' personalities is uncanny. In French with excellent subtitles. The music score (ranging from Pergolesi's "Stabat Mater" to contemporary street music) is well realized. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!