A bourgeois Polish couple’s relationship disintegrates during a stressful Italian vacation, in Aga Woszczyńska’s richly observed feature debut.
Deliciously tense and profoundly observant, Silent Land follows the Italian vacation of a Polish couple as it falls perfectly to pieces. There are many ways to tell a tale of bliss interrupted. In her feature debut, Aga Woszczyńska chooses taut, thoughtful sequences to peel back the veneer of success from this beautiful bourgeois couple.
The first thing they notice on arrival at their vacation rental is that the swimming pool is empty. Their Italian host swiftly sends over a migrant worker to fix the situation. The young, muscular Arab man immediately faces a language barrier with the couple. When he suffers a terrible accident poolside, it’s as if fate had been conspiring against all three of them from the beginning. But now, with their holiday at risk and the small town’s police sniffing around, this sleek couple must test the strength of their own moral foundations.
From the first scenes, Woszczyńska establishes an atmosphere of dread, as if summoning the moods of Antonioni and Haneke and channelling them through her own blistering perspective on human frailty. Each scene is precise, each frame as refined as the couple’s grooming and fitness regimens. But as the police continue to pull at loose threads in their story, and as the unpredictable nature of the town and its people continue to unsettle them, fissures open up between the two. In understated scenes that build to devastating effect, Woszczyńska offers an unblinking gaze at the small steps leading downward to moral collapse.
Content advisory: sexually suggestive scenes