Engulfed in secrets: Claes Bang on the unspeakable happenings within ‘BAY OF SILENCE’

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Preston Barta // Features Editor

Private eyes, amateur sleuths, and spooks – we love mysteries and are so drawn to narratives that plumb the dark recesses of human nature. They often promise the audience action, adventure, and drama, allowing us to live through a story’s protagonist vicariously. The best ones also engage and challenge our intellect through clues and compelling characters. 

If you’re finding solid thrillers to be in short supply, perhaps The Bay of Silence might speak to you. 

Starring Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace), Claes Bang (The Square), and Brian Cox, the film spins an unnerving mystery. It finds Bang’s character, Will, in pursuit of his wife, Rosalind (Kurylenko), after she frantically flees to a remote French village with their children. Help comes from Rosalind’s stepfather, Milton (Cox), but relief turns to horror as Will begins to slowly learn the truth.

Fresh Fiction spoke with Claes Bang about the lessons we can absorb from the mystery film, working within the thriller framework, and what we should expect from Robert Eggers’ latest dip into the hellish cinemascape, the upcoming The Northman.

Preston Barta: As a father, this film had a profound impact on me. There were certain moments that I feel will be difficult to shake. You navigated that very well as an actor. But what impact did the film have on you? Were you thinking about certain aspects of your life more deeply because of it, whether it’s postpartum or mental health?

Claes Bang: “Without giving it away, obviously there’s a very, very heavy tragedy in this film. And I thought it was very important that we got that right. And also, obviously, I’m very happy to say that I have not experienced anything like that in my life, so it was approaching that thing that became the center of the work, I think.”

“I talked to a lot of people, as many as I could find that would talk to me about losing their child. I was very at a loss in terms of how you deal with something like that. How do you go through something like that? How do you live on after something like that happens? And what came from a lot of those talks was a lot of them experienced a great numbness. It’s like you just can’t contain it. It’s just too much. It’s too big.”

“As an actor, however, that was not all that helpful because numbness is actually a really hard thing to play. It’s actual actions of things you can do, but to numbness or to do nothing is really hard. But it was good to sort of try and find out what kind of impact it had on all these people.”

What makes this film such a rewarding thriller is that it doesn’t deal with its themes in a very direct way. It plants these topics of conversation between all these twists and turns, which in turn allows you to relate better to the material. I don’t know if it’s because of that distance, because it’s a fictional tale, but obviously, there’s a lot of truth. Did these observations come to you through exploring this material?

“Yes. I think what was actually helpful was when I read it the first time, I was probably as alienated and as surprised by what happened as the character is as it happens, as the story unfolds. Just finding out that you’ve been living with a person for some years, and you think you know that person, it turns out that the truth is completely different. And to have your whole world turned upside down like that, and I think that was sort of also what attracted me to it in the first place because I read it, and that’s how I felt. I was like, ‘Wow, this is really weird and wild.’ Still, it was supposed to be something you could relate to because I think that she goes through that whole state that she’s in loss is not something that you can actually– You totally believe it. So, that’s what interested me.”

There’s a line in the film that has really haunted me, and it’s when, I believe, Brian Cox’s character says, “Everyone has secrets to hide.” So simple and true. That line also encapsulates the entire film and its title. Did any thoughts come to mind when you heard or read that line for the first time?

“Yeah. I think it is true. But I don’t think it’s something we can actually do so much about. I think it is true that we all have secrets, and of course, some of the secrets will have an enormous bearing on other people’s lives. In this case, they do. But I do also think that a lot of people’s secrets are there, and they probably will not overthrow or overturn other people’s lives like this one does.”

“I think it’s actually also super important that we all have our little secrets because that is what makes us who we are. I think that’s the intriguing part about it. You have a feeling: ‘Wow, there’s probably a little bit more here than meets the eye. I wonder what it is?’ And perhaps you don’t actually always have to know. It’s just that thing that intrigues you. But I don’t know. Would the world be a better place if we all didn’t have any secrets? That’s a hard one.”

With this film, you’ve now played both sides of the court in a mystery. In The Girl in the Spider’s Web, you played the villain. Did you notice any interesting correlations between this and The Girl in the Spider’s Web, playing both sides?

“Yes, I see. I think there’s a very, very big difference. The guy in The Girl in the Spider’s Web, he’s a villain and the criminal. He kills people and does that for a living. He’s almost cartoonish, two-dimensional. He’s really the villain, and he never really strays from that. He’s just doing his job, and his job is just making sure that every step of business runs smoothly. And if that means getting rid of people, then he will have to do that.”

“And this guy here in Silence is a total straight-shooter. Just your average, decent, hardworking, lovely family man. Just a good guy who gets his whole world turned upside down by these secrets that are unveiled. So, I think they couldn’t be further apart, those two.”

Lastly, I know you’re shooting The Northman right now with director Robert Eggers (The Lighthouse). Is that going to be as awesome as I think it is?

“We’ve just been shooting for a week. I think it’s going to be totally mind-blowingly amazing. We’ve done so much cool stuff just in the first week. It looks incredible. It’s just insane. We’ve only been to the first location, and they built an entire Viking village on the hillside here [in Ireland], and it’s just so inspiring. It’s really, really amazing. It’s really cool.”

The Bay of Silence is now available on digital platforms.

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.