Good news: Sony Pictures UK tweeted that The Silent Storm is hitting the big screen in the UK on May 20.
We still do not have a release date for the US or other countries but we know Sony acquired North American rights along with key international territories, including the UK, France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Australia/New Zealand for the film back in March 2015. That is, The Silent Storm is very likely to arrive at a theater near you sometime soon.
So, let’s hang in there and get ourselves familiar with the movie as well as the team behind behind and in front of the camera!
But first… Let’s see the fantastic new trailer!
What’s your first impression of Damian Lewis as Balor McNeal; a self-righteous, self-repressed, authoritarian minister living with his young and spirited wife on a remote island in Scotland in 1950s? Well, the way director McFarlane describes the couple is quite intriguing: “Balor is a minister whose world is being uprooted. He has a traditionally male concept of godliness, which is structure and order, whereas Aislin is the weird woman, the Mary Magdalen, the misunderstood woman of nature for whom God is in mother nature; she has a more pagan view.”
We will talk about the movie as well as Balor McNeal in the coming weeks in much more detail; well you know we love micro-analyzing anything Damian does… But why not take a FIRST LOOK now at the plot, the trailer, the brilliant cast as well as the wonderful female team behind the project?
“On a remote Scottish island before World War II, Aislin (Andrea Riseborough) lives with her minister husband Balor (Damian Lewis). He is a man of sudden and violent mood swings, and stern religiosity. Aislin finds consolation from his attitude of wrathful disapproval in the stark beauty of the surrounding countryside. With the other islanders leaving for the mainland in droves, the couple are joined by a Glaswegian youth (Ross Anderson), entrusted to their care by a religious charity. Balor is initially suspicious of him, but Aislin recognises a kindred spirit in this sensitive young man and their relationship deepens when her husband has to leave the island.”
The plot gives us a handful and the first trailer that was out last year makes it even more intriguing with the words “between love, hate and understanding, lies the truth.”
The movie seems to have a poetic story telling — at least in the scenes with the wild Scottish landscape in the background… a poem in which God sends “sinners” that will “burn in the belly of Hell” to Balor… a man that doesn’t seem to score well in understanding or loving the “sinners” where as these young people understand, love and even heal each other…
Here’s another short clip that opens a small window into Balor and Aislin’s strange marriage:
No, no, no, Aislin… It doesn’t seem Balor will take “nothing” as an answer… And, don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to make a case for Balor, but… just having seen the trailer, I would not take “nothing” as an answer, either 😀
Balor looks like a pressure cooker, doesn’t he — you can clearly see pressure going up and up and up inside him… It’s very likely that he will explode at some point in the film and may regret the consequences!
Now let’s move on and meet the wonderful team behind The Silent Storm:
Ladies first! 🙂
Writer & Director Corinna McFarlane is known for directing the critically acclaimed documentary Three Miles North of Molkom which the Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw calls “Extraordinary… Effortlessly entertaining.”
McFarlane says her script is influenced by anything from Carl Jung to Celtic myths: “It is a strong, simple story with universal emotions. The main thing was to get great actors who come to it for the right reasons and who have real depth.” And she adds: “I wanted to tell a strong and simple story that played out on an epic scale. I was inspired by films like “The Piano” and “Breaking The Waves.” I see the film as a strange Western — a woman’s Scottish take on a Western.”
The film is produced by Moon co-producer Nicky Bentham. She says on the film: “It is a tempestuous, brooding drama but full of life and full of colour,” and, of Mull, she added: “It is just one of those magical places.”
Producer Nicky Bentham tells WFTV (Women in Film and Television) that Damian Lewis was their first choice but his agent turned them down because he had commitment to Homeland. However, a chance meeting between Barbara Broccoli and Damian Lewis at a party changed everything that Bentham got a call “from his agent to say he really loves this script and there might be a window in the Homeland schedule.” And they “moved heaven and earth to make it work.”
As for the location, Corinna McFarlane says in an interview with The Evening Standard, that her film was inspired by what she found when family illness prompted her to explore their roots in Scotland. “I was blown away by the atmosphere created by the landscape.”
And Producer Nick Bentham tells WFTV about how isolated their shoot location was as well as how such a challenge could in fact be a blessing in disguise:
“It takes a day to get there, and it’s only accessible by ferry and to bring a whole film crew and everything you need to make a film to such a small place is difficult.”
“It turns out cellphone reception was a challenge as well. “I had a landline in my office which was on the edge of cliff and a bit of a trek to get to, so if I wasn’t in my office I wasn’t really reachable.”
However, Bentham believes that kind of isolation made the cast and crew just pull together: “We didn’t have a huge amount of contact with the outside world and in a way that was brilliant because everyone was there in the moment and was really committed to what we were doing.”
As a side note, Nicky Bentham and Corinna Villari-McFarlane are also working on a very different project together: a screwball sex comedy called Monk’s Apartment.
Barbara Broccoli, a co-executive producer of The Silent Storm (Oh, yes, THAT Broccoli, the producer of Bond films!) tells the Guardian: “I was so excited that I read it twice. When I also found behind it a young, gutsy British female film-maker… Well, I’m a big believer there should definitely be more of those.”
Broccoli also says in an interview with ScreenDaily: “It is very exciting to me to be working with Corinna, a director who has a fresh female voice and a strong creative vision.” “Her inspiring script has attracted two of Britain’s most talented actors and we believe that she will make a powerful film.”
Ha, ha, we know one of these most talented actors very well, don’t we? 🙂
The other one, the lead actress in the movie, is Andrea Riseborough. She is a young, brilliant actress who you may have seen in Birdman (2014). She also appeared in Made in Degenham (2010), Never Let Me Go (2010) and Shadow Dancer (2012), with which she received the 2012 BIFA Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a British Independent Film, and the 2012 Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actress.
Andrea Riseborough, in an interview with Evening Standard says that the female team behind The Silent Storm made the project special, and working with Damian Lewis was an added bonus. She adds: “I read the script and thought it was magical. And then I went to meet Corinna and she was so powerful and funny and unafraid to share her enthusiasm for her art.”
And the guys… Young Scottish actor Ross Anderson plays the Glaswegian youth that is entrusted to Balor and Aislin by a religious charity. Anderson tells Hollywood News that despite “idyllic background and beautiful story”, he had to shoot some intense scenes, in particular a fight scene with Damian Lewis. He says: “We both just went for it – it got you fired up!”
Ha! We just cannot wait to see THAT! Go for it, boys!
And finally…we have Damian as the lead actor whom I just want to applaud first for taking a role in this independent, almost-all-women project.
Damian Lewis says he was drawn to the script because “it is an intimate character piece. I loved it and it’s not just bleak, gritty British reality, it has scale and it also has hope.” He says McFarlane’s script is in the same school as masters like Ingmar Bergman or Werner Herzog. Indeed, his character undertakes a Fitzcarraldo-like physical challenge during the story.
Damian’s character is a Second World War veteran who comes home to a changing community. “He is a man of a bygone era; he’s beaten down, he’s pent up and repressed, and he crushes the women around him,” says Lewis. But don’t let that put you off: Lewis also notes there are “moments of joy” in the film.
Damian tells The Guardian before filming about working with Riseborough: “I can’t wait to work with Andrea at last and get our teeth into these very meaty roles. There’s nothing so rewarding for a film actor as the intensity of an intimate shoot like this will be, isolated away in a beautiful part of the world.”
And, it seems he was taken care of very well during this intimate shoot and by Ms. Barbara “007” Broccoli herself! Damian tells: “She overheard me say my pillow was like a brick and she arrived in her car from London with two duck-down pillows from John Lewis.” If you all want to know what we’re talking about… Find your Perfect Pillow here! 🙂
And, what does Damian think about working with an almost-all-women team? Well, he says powerful women are “his specialty” — gotta LOVE this guy 🙂