Those of you that only watch mainstream American movies, have you noticed how there is almost never any silence? It's almost like the studios are afraid that if there isn't dialogue or an intense action sequence (think Jason Bourne) the audience will lose interest.
I thought of this over the weekend while watching the movie "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter...and Spring." This Korean film has two main characters. Occasionally a third person enters the story to progress it, but mainly it's a two-person movie. And the characters are Buddhist monks living on a floating monastery in the middle of nowhere. Guess what? Minimal dialogue. I remember hearing one of the characters speak, and I suddenly realized I was watching a 90 minute film that had 30 minutes of dialogue at most, probably considerably less. And dialogue wasn't necessary. The movie was able to communicate everything it needed to through other elements. It seemed the the silence gave me the opportunity to question what was happening and how it was effecting the characters. The director let the movie unfold instead of telling me what was happening.
I wouldn't recommend this movie to everyone, but if you want to see a perfect example of silence being the right choice in a movie, watch the Best of Youth. The closing scene in that movie is perfect, and it would have been ruined with words. (Don't forget that movie is six hours long. Jaime started watching it around 10 p.m. one evening, which I thought was an odd choice. Turns out she forgot it was so long. Originally it was an Italian miniseries.)