The Bay of Silence

Review by Rich Cline | 3/5

The Bay of Silence
dir Paula van der Oest
scr Caroline Goodall
prd Caroline Goodall, Jason Newmark, Cheyanne Kane, Alain De Levita
with Claes Bang, Olga Kurylenko, Brian Cox, Alice Krige, Assaad Bouab, Caroline Goodall, Shalisha James-Davis, Hannah van der Westhuysen, Maroussia Frank, Gijs Scholten van Aschat, Litiana Biutanaseva, Lilibet Biutanaseva
release US 14.Aug.20,
UK 28.Sep.20
20/UK 1h34

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bang and kurylenko
There's a Hitchcockian layer of suspense beneath even the happiest scenes in this mystery thriller, reminding the audience to keep an eye out for clues about what's actually going on. Indeed, this is a slow-burn drama that seems to take several twists within each segment of the plot, dropping hints, clues and red herrings everywhere. But the moody emotions are rather murky, and the story itself is somewhat elusive.
On a romantic holiday at the picturesque Bay of Silence in Italy, Will and Rosalind (Bang and Kurylenko) dream about one day moving here. But life takes over when they return to London, set up home and start a family. Then years later, Rosalind begins to behave strangely, vanishing with their three children. Will consults her enigmatic stepdad Milton (Cox), then eventually tracks her down in France, where he must deal with a horrible tragedy. And back in England, it becomes clear that everyone is lying about an awful event from Rosalind's childhood.
The steady stream of discoveries, dark revelations and nasty events makes the film intensely compelling to watch, especially as wider implications begin to somewhat stubbornly become clear. There's quite a lot going on under the film's glacial surface, and director van der Oest spends so much time concealing facts and feelings from the audience that there's little to grab hold of along the way. Thankfully, the secrets are intriguing, and the film is skilfully shot in lovely settings that spark additional interest.

Performances match the film's muted tone, occasionally letting some bigger emotions surge to the surface. The superb Bang is excellent at sharply capturing Will's confusion as well as his determination to get to the bottom of a rather blurry situation. He's very easy to identify with. Kurylenko convincingly veers between happy and haunted, but doesn't get much else to play. And side characters add plenty of interest, including Cox, Krige (as Rosalind's mum) and Bouab (as an enigmatic French friend).

There are some interesting thematic wrinkles dealing with a combination of mental illness, postpartum depression and the underlying stresses of modern life. But the demands of the plot overrun these, as everyone does seriously dodgy things to "protect the ones we love". So those themes are actually a smokescreen for an elaborate conspiracy that van der Oest never quite allows to come into full focus. The story has grim power, but the ending lacks a visceral kick.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, sexuality 9.Aug.20

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© 2020 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall