In the sun-soaked lethargy of coastal Italy, a couple find themselves grappling with life, death, and purpose. As a concept, it’s hardly new territory – auteurs of luxurious turmoil Luca Guadagnino and François Ozon have previously mined this model in their respective films A Bigger Splash and The Swimming Pool. Premiering at TIFF ’21, Aga Woszczyńska brings an assertiveness and restrained sensibility to her film Silent Land, which explores how Polish couple Anna (Agnieszka Żulewska) and Adam (Dobromir Dymecki) respond to an inciting event that skews their romantic holiday. As in the films of Guadagnino and Ozon, Silent Land is largely concerned with the upper middle classes, as well as aesthetic properties (the villa is almost a character itself) and the slow and treacherous creep of transgression into the lives of the beautiful. In Woszczyńska’s film, this well-trodden concept is foregrounded by a shadowy military presence, a post-Brexit sense of cultural fragmentation and accents of the surreal and erotic.

Though languorous by design, the film’s pacing feels slightly imbalanced towards the halfway mark – with a sense that the inciting article occurred somewhat prematurely. This pacing extends to a number of the crowd scenes, where the pervasive hostility and discomfort of the couple further encumbers the narrative flow. When contrasted with the effusive and welcoming locals, the couple’s apathy becomes almost farcical.

That said, Woszcyńska does an assertive job of tapping into the strange liminal appeal of holiday homes, and spaces removed from normality. Within the suspended reality of the villa, the couple’s capacity for subversion, and fatality even, blooms with unsettling and compelling results.



CAST: Dobromir Dymecki, Agnieszka Żulewska, Jean Marc Barr, Alma Jodorowsky, Marcello Romolo

DIRECTOR: Aga Woszczyńska

WRITERS: Aga Woszczyńska, Piotr Jaksa Litwin

SYNOPSIS: A tragic incident at an Italian villa acts an emotional depth-charge for a holidaying Polish couple. Literalising the proverb, ‘trouble in paradise’, Silent Land is a tightly-wound (if not slightly bloated) investigation into intimacy, desire and destruction.


About The Author


Freelance film writer. Cinematic interests include (but are not limited to): women in film, women being bad in film, food in films, weird snacks that symbolise something else (a hot is never just a hot dog … or however the saying goes), great soundtracks in films, characters singing in their cars, films about drop-out music geeks that pretend to be teachers in order to live out their fantasy at a local rock gig (yes, School of Rock is in my top 5).