Digital Review – The Bay Of Silence (2020)

At long last, actor Brian Cox is getting the recognition he deserves, thanks to his potty mouthed scene stealer in Succession. With memorable turns under his belt ranging from Hannibal Lecktor in Manhunter to real life author Robert Mckee in Charlie Kaufman’s Adaptation, he’s been the epitome of the character actor who deserved to be a leading man.  If only some of that was on show in his latest, The Bay Of Silence, which arrives on digital and DVD this week. But we all have our off-days and, if you watch the film, it won’t take long for you to realise that it’s not actually his fault.

He’s back to playing a supporting role – in truth, he only has a handful of scenes – in this attempt at a thriller which also boasts the likes of Claes Bang, Olga Kurylenko and Alice Krige in a convoluted tale which starts idyllically enough, in the waters of The Bay Of Silence in Italy. At least that’s the title explained – or so you would hope.  The romantic couple at the centre are Will (Bang) and Rosalind (Kurylenko) who marry after a whirlwind affair, move in to a gorgeous London house and soon have a baby due to arrive any day. It all starts to fall apart when their little boy, Amadeo, arrives and sets in motion a plot that involves mental illness, a mysterious package from Normandy, some dodgy photographs and the rape of a teenager. And his older twin sisters, from Rosalind’s first marriage, come into it somewhere as well.

It’s a storyline as convoluted as bird’s nest soup and makes even less sense, especially when it comes to the fate of the baby.  He’s meant to be the catalyst for the unravelling of 20 year old mystery, but he’s precariously close to being irrelevant and certainly doesn’t deserve what happens to him. Aside from that, if you can be bothered to slog your way through the convoluted and slow moving plot, you’ll have worked out who’s the villain of the piece by the time you get half way through. Which leaves you another 45 minutes of this attempt at modern gothic served with a pinch of noir.  And it’s neither.

That long standing mystery, which resulted in a miscarriage of justice, is an especially unpleasant one, but as the film meanders between different locations and its multiple narrative strands, it’s almost impossible to hold on to any semblance of interest. It isn’t just down to the plot either: none of the characters are sufficiently rounded to engage our sympathy or attention and even actors of the calibre and Cox and Bang have their limits when it comes to saving a movie. This one is beyond them and Cox’s appearances are few enough for you to suspect just a couple of days filming squeezed in between more satisfying gigs.

The Bay Of Silence, very simply, makes no sense. It’s an unpleasant little story that fails to convince on any level and makes poor use of its acting talent. Attempts at making the baby’s two step-sisters look like they’re related to the twins from The Shining are nothing short of risible and, while the half soaked ending is totally predictable, that doesn’t stop it from being a massive disappointment. Just like the rest of the film.

Thriller, Crime, Mystery | Cert: 18 | Signature Entertainment | Digital, DVD | 28 September 2020 | Dir. Paula van der Oest | Claes Bang, Olga Kurylenko, Brian Cox, Alice Krige.