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The Bay of Silence on IMDb

Plot Overview

briefcaseA B&W prelude shows a barefoot girl (circa 14) in a night dress running hell bent for leather, toting a metal camera case. Evidently she got out of where she was kept and took some­thing that wasn't hers. She secretes it among rocks & debris set back from the beach, in a hidden cavity known by some local who showed it to her. She runs back followed by her friend young Pierre (Maximilien Frankel) who catches up and takes her hand, spooking her to SCREAM. In some abstract footage, the peasants arrive with torches and pitchforks.

right handFast forward twenty years and a vacationing couple is enjoying a swim in Silence Bay, Liguria, Italy, when the man Will Pallister (Claes Bang) submerges and comes up behind the woman Rosalind (Olga Kurylenko) grabbing her from behind, which spooks her. It's the girl grown up with unresolved issues. He proposes, but Ros has to consult her twins before she can accept. While sight­seeing she doesn't like her picture being taken. At home she takes her meds. At night She forbids Will from his ritual tickling of the twins. We hope the guy knows what he's getting into. She strikes us as a mental case medicated to maintain.

high ballThey engage in sex outdoors interrupted by a boy chasing his ball. Anthropologist Desmond Morris—best known for his book, The Naked Ape—writes of human sexual relations:

The [sexual] preliminaries provide time for careful judgments to be made, judgments that may be hard to form once the massive, shared emotional impact of double orgasm has been experienced. This powerful moment can act as such a tight ‘bonder’ that it may well tie together two people quite unsuited to each other, if they have not spent sufficient time exploring each other's personalities during the sexual preliminaries. (247)

dad, babyharlotOn a lark they commandeer a confessional in a Catholic Church and accept each other's confession. She confesses to telling a lie. He confesses to having “impure thoughts about a widow woman.” When she falls pregnant, they get married, the bride being eight months along. She has the baby early. When she loses her sanity and splits—with her kids—he finds out from his mother-in-law Vivian (Alice Krige) that she hadn't had an episode since she started seeing him three years ago. The twins are four or five, if that, and the baby a growing infant. Doing the math we see she started sexual activity directly after her husband passed. She'd been sexualized as a child. The lie she told was that the pills—Haloperidol—were for migraines. Right. She'd stopped taking them when she was expecting. He wished he'd have know all this before he married her, to skirt the troubles he's now facing, and they keep mounting up.


We share the couple's distress trying to work it out, and the writer has done us a favor by giving us unpre­dict­able back­ground actions to practice on. A wise man did the same in, (Prov. 30:18-19) “There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.”

“The way of an eagle in the air”—drifting then swooping suddenly on its prey—represents unpredictable aerial acrobatics. In this movie the mother with child-on-the-way takes an unexpected tumble from a balcony through a faulty railing. Will is an architect who knew about that railing but spoke up too late. He didn't practice safe sex either. When interrupted while having vertical inter­course, he rearranged his clothes in a hurry, and we can tell from his arm movements that he didn't need to deal with any rubber down below.

darkroomphotographerXmas card“The way of a serpent upon a rock” corresponds to the twins “Let's bury Will” in the sand on the beach. There was a big coverup in the main plot as well. Ros's friend Pierre Laurent (Assaad Bouab) returned the camera case to (now grown) Ros once he got out of prison, including with it a note offering his forgiveness (“Je te pardonne.”) That puzzled Vivian as it was Pierre who ruined Ros's life; why was he forgiving her? Ros couldn't testify at his trial as he'd expected her to exonerate him, because of her trauma. The august photog­rapher John Birtram Raven was beyond reproach, so they blamed Laurent the house servant whom they called the photog­rapher's assistant. They found compromising child porno pix in his room. He claimed he was framed. The villagers stood by him, but the lawyers of Vivian's ex, Milton (Bryan Cox)—ex military intelligence, obscenely wealthy—made sure he got the maximum sentence.

babydiscipleshipcandy canes“The way of a ship in the midst of the sea” corresponds here to swimming in the bay when Will playfully submerged to erupt suddenly. There is a sudden eruption of intrigue when Ros's schizophrenia emerges and she absconds with the tykes to Bel Rêv on the Normandy coast where as a girl she was a photog­rapher's model. Milton a disciple of Raven effects a coverup for the mischief that ensues, and their mulatto nanny Candy (Shalisha James–Davis) goes into hiding figuring she's likely to be the one blamed.

Those were easy practice examples. Will's “way of a man with a maid” is hard to second guess, perhaps impossible. The last twenty years of Raven's life were devoted to “travel and land­scapes,” says the museum curator (Duncan Duff,) “He could make a tree knot look subversive.” One travels, of course, to find just the right tree. For portraits in Raven's Lost Normandy Series, the stationary subject required arranging, a hands-on task, perhaps like Milton tenderly arranging his gift of a brooch on the neck of Ros at her wedding party. And if a photographer could make a tree knot look subversive, then I imagine an ex-intelligence officer could make a Lolita out of some banal photo­graphs. Just saying.

Production Values

” (2020) was directed by Paula van der Oest. Its screenplay was written by Caroline Goodall based on the book, The Bay of Silence by Lisa St. Aubin de Terán. It stars Claes Bang, Olga Kurylenko and Brian Cox. In a mostly maudlin trudge, they all held up their parts pretty well and through the pseudo-happy ending. The twins as child actors were well coached.

Its rating was certified 18 in the United Kingdom. It was filmed on location in Sestri Levante, Liguria, Italy. Languages spoken were English (mostly,) French, Italian and Russian. Runtime is 1½ hours.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

Here's a rather well done morality tale in which a woman comes clean about lying (eventually) and the man marries the girl he lusted after (better late than never.) There is forgiveness and retribution amidst lots of drama. Not preachy but telling. The drama is less than spell­binding and the thrill a long time coming. Good for alleviating boredom.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Suspense: Predictable. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Morris, Desmond. Manwatching. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1977. Print.