THE BAY OF SILENCE movie poster | ©2020 Vertical Entertainment

THE BAY OF SILENCE movie poster | ©2020 Vertical Entertainment

Rating: Not Rated
Stars: Claes Bang, Olga Kurylenko, Brian Cox, Assaad Bouab, Alice Krige, Caroline Goodall, Shalisha James-Davis, Hannah van der Westhuysen
Writer: Caroline Goodall, based on the novel by Lisa St. Aubin de Teran
Director: Paula van der Oest
Distributor: Vertical Entertainment
Release Date: August 14, 2020

The Bay of Silence is a harbor in Liguria, Italy. The action subsequently hops to London, France, and Switzerland, and there’s a brief black and white prologue, but it’s here that we encounter Rosalind (Olga Kurylenko) and her boyfriend Will (Claes Bang). Will and Rosalind are besotted with each other. He proposes, she accepts. By the time they wed, Rosalind is pregnant with their first child together.

Rosalind is a successful artist, with twin little girls (Litiana Biutanaseva and Lilibet Biutanaseva) from a previous relationship. At the wedding, we meet Rosalind’s agent, Milton (Brian Cox), as well as Rosalind’s mother Vivian (Alice Krige), and Will’s architectural design business partner Marcia (Caroline Goodall, who also wrote the screenplay for THE BAY OF SILENCE, based on the novel by Lisa St. Aubin de Teran). Everybody seems very happy.

Rosalind has a fall. Baby Amadeo is born prematurely, but otherwise seems healthy. Rosalind, however, seems confused, insisting she’s had twins again and that someone is lying to her about the whereabouts of Amadeo’s sibling. At home, Rosalind starts sleepwalking and tearing at the walls, only to wake up with no apparent memory of having done so.

Will comes home from work one day to find that Rosalind has taken their infant son and the twins and disappeared. Understandably freaked out, he tries to locate his missing family. Eventually, he tracks Rosalind down to the Normandy coast, where she is in a state of acute distress.

Director Paula van der Oest gets such a sumptuous look that we don’t question the film’s title. THE BAY OF SILENCE, in addition to referring to secrets kept by various characters, is a stunning setting, and various other locales are likewise beautiful and heavy with visual possibilities.

As long as director Van der Oest and screenwriter Goodall keep us guessing, THE BAY OF SILENCE is an intriguing puzzle box. Who can we trust? Is there something really wrong with Rosalind? If so, what is it, and does anyone else know about it?

Then we get to the revelations, and the film starts to unravel. The filmmakers seem almost arbitrary in what they depict as excusable, as opposed to what they actively condemn. Most people (including this reviewer) would agree with the condemnations, but – how to phrase this without spoiling the mystery? – the plot is propelled by an all-too-common type of real-world tragedy that has very uncommon results here. Without having read the book, it’s impossible to know if there was a fuller, more nuanced explanation that got edited out, or what reaction we’re meant to have.

Kurylenko navigates between ethereal loveliness, sorrow and terrifying fury adroitly, and Bang is solid as the loving, perplexed Will. Cox is smooth and masterful as the avuncular agent.

THE BAY OF SILENCE has travelogue charm and romance in its early going. It also stirs our imagination with its possibilities, though the resolution leaves much to be desired.

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