Director: Corinna McFarlane
Distributor: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Duration: 98 minutes
The Silent Storm (DVD) – Movie Review
In The Silent Storm, director Corinna McFarlane sketches a world of faith and disillusion. The characters all have to battle their own storm, while the weather is also turning on the island, making the title ideal for this film. With a story that might seem plain on first glance, but isn’t so at all, she takes you along to minister Balor McNeil’s life, as everything around him is falling apart.
On a remote Scottish island, things are taking a turn for the worst when the mine, the only source of income for the inhabitants, is closed down. Many move to the mainland in search of a new income and better prospects, but minister Balor McNeil (Damian Lewis) is determined to stay, as he believes that with the help of God, the mine will reopen soon. All he has to do is make sure that he, and those around him, live a religious and honest life. His wife Aiden (Andrea Riseborough) is more down to earth than he is, which causes a lot of friction between the two, even though Aiden is anything but the devilish woman he claims her to be. Nonetheless, some mystery hangs around her, as all we know is that she washed ashore about four years ago on the island, before the minister took her in.
Right when about everyone has left for the mainland, they get a visit from a Mr. Smith (John Sessions) from the probationary office, and the felon Fionn (Ross Anderson). Mr. Smith asks them to take Fionn in as part of a reintegration program, and Aiden and Balor accept, though reluctantly. Balor immediately puts the lad to work, not sparing him at all. Just like with Aiden, he keeps him under the thumb by fatiguing him and threatening. One day, Balor decides that he must bring all of the church furniture to the mainland, as on the island it is of no use anymore. He and Fionn work day and night to get everything ready to be shipped. When Balor leaves with his load for the mainland, he leaves Aiden and Fionn behind, who are happy to be at peace for a little while and take the chance to get to know each other better.
The Silent Storm has a storyline that is quite estranging, yet interesting. The stubborn minister, trying to hold on to something that isn’t anymore (the mine), by relying on his faith and God’s urge to do good, is quite a frightening character at times, when he realizes that his faith might not be enough to save him. The same goes for his relationship with his wife Aiden, where he needs to be in control, as it seems again that he needs something to hold on to. His faith, and his wife and him living a good life seem to be the only way out of the current unfortunate way things are going on the island, which makes him a surly man. All of this makes for a story that is quite unusual, yet with a good flow to prevent it from getting dull. What is especially interesting to see, is how the story is carried by only three characters, as the island is otherwise deserted.
Even though we are by now used to Damian Lewis speaking with different accents as if they were his native tongue, as he did in Homeland and Life, it took us quite some time getting used to his Scottish accent. The combination of his fretful character and his Scottish accent made him seem a bit unreal at the beginning, but overall, his acting is superb. Andrea Riseborough portrays a character who has much more depth to her than you would initially think, which she manages to bring out well.
There are no extras to be found on this DVD release. While it is always a nice thing to have some additional content, it doesn’t feel necessary with this title. If we had to pick something though, some background on the characters and the inspiration for the story would have been an interesting thing to see.
Only three characters make out the story of The Silent Storm, a story that is both estranging as well as interesting. The minister is trying to keep his flock together, while a felon, a servant of the devil in the minister’s eyes, is coming to live with him and his wife. It’s a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. This story, together with the strong acting performances makes for an unusual, yet good experience.