Silent Land review – chilly comeuppance for picture-perfect tourists in Italian idyll

Aga Woszczynska’s incisive debut skewers guilt, desire and class for a vain pair of holidaymakers

Polish director Aga Woszczynska’s methodical and incisive debut feature offers a painterly study of guilt, desire and class, rendered in sky blues, terracotta tiles and white-people nude fabrics. Through an account of a holiday on an Italian island that goes wrong for extremely blond Polish couple Anna and Adam (Agnieszka Zulewska and Dobromir Dymecki), the script explores the chasms of cultural disconnection that lie beneath the tourism-industry fantasy of free-moving people of EU nations gaily traversing the continent in search of jollies.

Anna and Adam arrive at the spacious, secluded villa they’ve hired and are miffed to find the pool they were looking forward to using is empty. They complain to the unctuous manager (Marcello Romolo) who makes excuses and negotiates with the couple to have it fixed as quickly as possible in order to avoid issuing any kind of refund. The visitors resume their routines of running together and shagging athletically, but the arrival of an Arab builder (Ibrahim Keshk) unbalances the equilibrium: partly because he starts using a noisy piece of equipment to fix the pool, and partly because his strikingly chiselled torso is seldom clothed, attracting Anna’s eye and piquing Adam’s jealousy. But a nasty random accident changes the whole picture, and the Poles are compelled to give statements to the police that aren’t quite backed up by the CCTV footage that saw everything.

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