BAY OF SILENCE, THE
(director: Paula van der Oest; screenwriters: novel by Lisa St Aubin de Terán/Caroline Goodall; cinematographer: Guido van Gennep; editors: Sander Vos, Paul Tothill; music: John Swihart; cast: Claes Bang (Will), Olga Kurylenko (Rosalind), Brian Cox (Milton), Alice Krige (Vivian), Assaad Bouab (Pierre Laurent), Lilibet Biutanaseva (Harriet), Litiana Biutanaseva (Florence), Caroline Goodall (Marcia), Gifs Scholten van Aschat (Dr. Müller), Shalisha James-Davis (Candy), Hannah van der Westhuysen (Becca), Duncan Duff (Curator), Maroussia Frank (Lena), Kristen Davies (Young Rosalind), Maximilien Frankel (Young Pierre), Agni Scott (Dr. Zervou), Emily Heyworth (Nurse); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Caroline Goodall, Jason Newmark, Cheyanne Kane, Alain de Levita; Vertical Entertainment; 2020-UK/Netherlands- in English, French, Italian-English subtitles when neccessary)
“This noir type of Hitchcockian thriller falls short. It needed the Master himself to direct it.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Dutch director Paula van der Oest(“Zus & Zo”/”The Afghan”) is the filmmaker of this neo-Hitchcockian thriller. It’s a well-acted film and one with deep feelings, but it’s ambitious and has difficulty merging a enigmatic mystery story with one over trauma and sexual abuse. Its screenwriter is Caroline Goodall, the veteran character actress, playing the small part of Claes Bang’s boss, who adapts it from the 1986 novel by the British author Lisa St Aubin de Terán. The title is derived from the film’s initial setting on The Bay of Silence, on the Ligurian coast of Italy.
The story centers around a wealthy London architect, Will (Claes Bang), who while on an Italian vacation proposes to the artist widow Rosalind (Olga Kurylenko), with twin daughters (Lilibet and Litiana Biutanaseva) from another relationship. Will’s baffled trying to figure out her confusing past and why Rosalind doesn’t like to be photographed. But they marry and live together in a Victorian house on the Norman coast.
The pregnant Rosalind falls from a balcony while photographing Will and the girls, and is unhurt giving birth to a premature baby boy. But she wrongly believes she gave birth to twins and that the other child was taken from her. Will is puzzled by her strange behavior, thinking at first she’s only depressed. But soon discovers this birth uncovers her prior severe mental health issues she never told him about. Thereby a number of unfulfilling subplots are introduced in the chilly atmosphere of the setting on the English seacoast. One night she vanishes with all the children and their nanny Candy (Shalisha James-Davis).
Will’s investigation takes him from the sordid London nightclub scene to a troubling spot in a Normandy fishing village to an upscale private Swiss sanatorium, where he learns more about his missing wife than he bargained for.
Alice Krige plays Rosalind’s snobbish and cagey mother; while Brian Cox, now living in France, plays Rosalind’s former doting stepdad–her artistic manager, art dealer, and the one in charge of handling her photography. There’s more to come that turns ugly, as the deeper Will searches the more he finds out about Rosalind’s traumatized childhood.
The murky slow-burn drama story leaves a lot to be desired. What works well is the touristy warm travelogue photography in Italy and the dreary mood setting photography on the chilly English seacoast. But this noir type of Hitchcockian thriller falls short. It needed the Master himself to direct it.
REVIEWED ON 8/28/2020 GRADE: B-