Friday, October 14, 2022

Claes Bang's Euro Vacation: The Bay of Silence

(Paula van der Oest, 2020, rated R, 93 minutes)

Depending on your perspective, The Bay of Silence is a domestic drama, a psychological thriller, or a travelogue--possibly all three. 

In the prologue, Will (Danish actor Claes Bang, the BBC's Dracula), a graphic designer, and Rosalind (Ukrainian-French actress Olga Kurylenko, Quantum of Solace), a photographer, wander around the hills of Liguria, Italy. They swim in the titular bay, admire the hillside homes, and make love al fresco. 

It would all seem idyllic if Rosalind, a single mother with two kids, wasn't so skittish about having her picture taken. The minute Will tries to capture the moment, she deletes the photo from his phone. He laughs it off. The audience knows better.

The vacation culminates in a marriage proposal. Eight months later, she's pregnant, and they've moved into a London home with her grade school-age twins and a nanny. The romantic idyll ends when she leans against a wobbly railing and tumbles over the balcony to the cobblestones below. Though their baby suffers no harm and she recovers from her injuries, Rosalind emerges with the conviction that she lost a child in the fall. Will assures her that she wasn't carrying twins for a second time, but she doesn't buy it. 

After Rosalind develops a sleepwalking habit, Will tries to figure out what's really going on. 

Her stepfather, Milton (Succession's 
ever-slippery Brian Cox), a former military intelligence officer, tells him that she's been seeing the same Swiss doctor for years. Since they don't live anywhere near Switzerland, that seems odd. "Skype," Milton explains. 

One day, Will comes home to find the house empty. No wife, no kids, no nanny, no passports. While sorting through the clues, he suspects she's run away with a photographer friend. Knowing that her family has property in Normandy, he goes looking for her in France where he finds a woman, his wife, who has gone off the deep end. He also finds a dead body. 

From Normandy, they travel to Switzerland, where Rosalind’s mother, Vivian (Alice Krige, Institute Benjamenta) tells him a few things about Rosalind's mental state, but it doesn't explain what happened to the nanny, who has disappeared, and why a stranger has been following them around Europe. 

Oscar-nominated Dutch director Paula van der Oest (Zus & Zo), working from Caroline Goodall's adaptation of Lisa St. Aubin de Terán's 1986 novel, eventually solves the mystery, but it's all too neat and tidy (Goodall also plays Will's colleague). If her film isn't quite the disaster its reputation might suggest, it doesn't add up to a whole lot, despite the filmmaker's attempts to grapple with serious issues like mental illness and sexual abuse. 

The actors are fine, though both leads have done better work elsewhere, particularly Claes Bang who made such a vivid impression in Rubin Östlund's Palme d'Or winner The Square--it's also nice to see the undervalued Alice Krige, an intriguing presence in some of the dreamier films of the 1990s, in most anything. But the scenery is certainly nice. A strong optional selection. 

The Bay of Silence is available to stream through the usual digital pay operators. Images from the IMDb (Claes Bang and Olga Kurylenko and Bang and Alice Krige) and The Hollywood Reporter (Bang and Kurylenko).

No comments:

Post a Comment