Dark thriller ‘Bay of Silence’ is, well dark, really dark.
Whilst the all-star cast grace each scene, and some thoroughly gorgeous cinematography threatens to take you out of the moment, the core plot which takes you on a spiralling ride through hard subject material such as severe mental health issues, child abuse and infanticide I would say that it’s a good film; even if I didn’t all together enjoy it!
The plot (which apparently is based on a novel of the same name) follows a young family and an expectant mother, who, after an accident at home is rushed to hospital. Much to the husband’s relief their baby boy is born, but the optimism is short lived. Upon returning home the mother is wrought with depression, her mental health spiralling into psychosis; then she leaves – taking the new-born with her.
The story really gets going here, as, in the process of trying to reunite his family, he unearths some sordid facts about a distant past, and some dark truths that lie not all that far away.
‘Bay of Silence’ is film which treads the line between a number of genres, and whilst its not a horror by any stretch (although its certainly unnerving enough!) the beginning does have an atmosphere as if it might be shaping up to be; perhaps a tension movie would be more apt. Right from the get go there’s just something wrong. Despite the idyllic locations and whirlwind romance there are some clever little subtilise and nuances which let you know somethings off. The character of the mother for example, she has an edge about her, and whilst you don’t know it at the time, it’s a clever use of her limited screen time at the start of the film to give us a foresight into what’s to come.
Once the wife goes missing much of the screen-time is dominated by Claes Bang, who plays husband/father Will. I recently watched him in the BBC’s adaptation of Dracula, and as in that, his performance is solid, his masculine appearance balancing nicely with his soft tone gives a good grounding to a father who is on the verge of loosing everything, but being mentally strong enough to keep going. This is important, because for much of the film, which at times simply plunges into despair, you have to believe that the story is going somewhere, and his pragmatism just about convinces you that he is going to piece it all together and somehow come out on top – well sort of.
With strong performances, and some truly harrowing set pieces the only stumbling block I felt was with the pacing of the film’s exposition. Despite the drama, despite the characterisation, the story drip feeds an overarching mystery, continually hinting at a wider conspiracy. The issue is, however, is that the films more obvious narrative is in-fact far more hard hitting.
Its difficult to explain too much without spoiling the movie, but when all is said and done, and the films broader plot is revealed, there is little justice to be had, and little to be thankful for really. Sure enough, in more traditional terms the bad guy is revealed, and there’s some fleeting justice to be had, but even when the final shot shows a ‘happy ever after’ style montage, there is just no way of discounting the irreversible tragedies shown earlier in the plot.
There is an unevenness with how characters are developed, and the exposition receives a similar unbalance. Despite its best efforts to explain away some glaring realities there are some plot holes which seem to get brushed over a little to easily for my liking too.
Overall, ‘Bay of Silence’ is a solid film. I don’t think it’s going to be everyone’s taste, and if anything, the film, which flits between drama and thriller, perhaps doesn’t deliver quite enough of either. That said, its well-acted, its story certainly stays with you, and even if it’s not quite as feasible as it would like you to believe, it certainly draws you into the void alongside its characters.