London Film Festival: The Silent Storm

Directed by Corinna McFarlane
Starring Andrea Riseborough, Damian Lewis, Kate Dickie and Ross Anderson

by Joanna Orland

I managed to sit through nearly an hour of this film in anticipation of it redeeming itself at some point.  It nearly did with the arrival of Ross Anderson’s Fionn, but not enough so to keep my interest.

Set on a remote Scottish island in the 1950’s, The Silent Storm is the story of Balor (Lewis), a minister whose losing his congregation to the mainland.  He has a violent temper and mood swings that unnerve his wife Aislin (Riseborough).  Apparently they’re upset and arguing because of the child they lost during labour, but to be honest – is this a marriage that could have survived if it wasn’t for the minister’s hard stance against divorce?

Fionn arrives to add a point to the triangle and is just about a glimmer of light in this otherwise dim film.  Anderson is quite endearing in his first feature role and somehow seems more suited to the screen than television veteran Damian Lewis.  Lewis gives a performance suited for the stage rather than screen in his melodramatic portrayal of Balor, which becomes so over the top at times you’d be forgiven to mistake it for pantomime.  While his accent thoroughly Scottish, it seems more suited to a Mike Myers character than to a minister in a serious Scottish rural drama.  Whether it be the directing that put Lewis’ performance so out of sync with the character, or if the film is just a bad film with no redeeming qualities, I’m not quite sure at this point.  All I know is that after an hour of enduring it, I understood why everyone was leaving for the mainland and decided to join them.

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