Will and Rosalind are madly in love. Both with successful careers, they marry, Will happily takes on the fathering of Rosalind’s twin daughters, and Rosalind gives birth to their son. Soon after his birth, things fall apart, and Rosalind’s mysterious past starts to intrude on their domestic bliss.
Based on the novel by 80s literary darling Lisa St Aubin de Teran, The Bay of Silence is a dark, harrowing, and complex story.
Claes Bang, most recently seen as Dracula, stars as Will, with Olga Kurylenko as Rosalind. Veteran actor Brian Cox plays the avuncular Milton, Rosalind’s agent and mentor.
Dutch director Paula van der Oest maintains the tension with beautifully nuanced shots, making the most of the landscape: the Normandy coast (actually shot in Scotland), and the eponymous Bay of Silence in Italy. Screenplay by Caroline Goodall (who also appears in the film) tries to maintain the dark poetry of the novel, and mostly succeeds. The narrative unfolds very much from Will’s point-of-view. It becomes his story, rather than Rosalind’s, leaving Kurylenko with not much to do aside from some postpartum psychotic episodes.
There is a lot going on in this story: sexual abuse; birth-trauma; abusive relationships; death; disappearances; mysterious pasts. Consequently, there are some threads left dangling and some questions left unanswered, but not in the deliberate way which can be oddly satisfying.
Yet still, this is a film which gets under your skin. It is worth the price of admission just to witness Bang’s powerhouse performance as a man thrown into an unbearable trauma over which he has almost no power.
The Bay of Silence is currently available on DVD and video on demand.
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