Too Quiet

by Alan Rapp on September 1, 2006

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: The Quiet
  • IMDb: link

the-quietThrillers work on keeping the audience on the edge of your seat.  This film isn’t a thriller.  Character studies work by examining individuals and relationships, bringing truths and secrets out, and making resolutions.  This isn’t a character study.  In fact, I’m not sure what it is.  I know what it wants to be, but it just doesn’t know how to get there.

Dot (Camilla Belle) is a miserable and lonely young deaf high school student.  After the death of her father she moves in with a family whose own troubles make hers seem bearable.  Nina (Elisha Cuthbert) is the spoiled cheerleader who doesn’t appreciate being associated with a school outcast.  Paul Deer (Martin Donovan) is a successful father who loves his daughter a little too much, and his wife Olivia (Edie Falco) is a pill-popping addict that was last sober sometime in the 90’s.

In this house Dot learns the family’s dark secrets, is tormented and confided in by Nina (as the plot calls for her to be either a sympathetic friend or a heartless bitch from scene to scene), and tries to keep her own dark secrets from coming to light.

The film doesn’t quite work.  The seediness of the subject matter isn’t the problem (though it never lets up).  The real issue with the film is it doesn’t have anything to say on the subjects it’s examining.  After putting us through such unseemly plot points there needs to be some pay-off for the audience.

Instead all we get are ridiculous plot twists, that make absolutely no sense and destroy any credibility of the characters, as the film devolves into a mindless thriller.  There’s also a strange and very unromantic relationship between Dot and a popular boy (Shawn Ashmore) that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

There are parts of the movie that are well done.  The choice of the deaf character to be the narrator is a surprsing and interesting choice that works well until the film devolves into wackocrazyfuntime.  The relationship of Nina with her parents and her best friend Michelle (Katy Mixon) rings true.  In fact one of the films strength is capturing how teenagers actually do talk to each other and their parents instead of the regular Hollywood movie version we usually get.  Though the film does reach into the gutter to tease a softcore porn moment between Nina and Michelle.  This film would be right at home 3:00 am on Cinemax.

This one gets a failing grade.  Director Jamie Babbit brings plenty of slick and sexy scenes and tantalizing twists to dazzle, but doesn’t seem to have anything to actually say to audience once he has their attention.  The film might be quiet, but if it has nothing to say why should we watch?

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