CAPSULE: THE QUIET (2005)

DIRECTED BY:  Jamie Babbit

FEATURING:  Elisha Cuthbert, Camilla Belle, Edie Falco, Martin Donovan, Katy Mixon

PLOT: A deaf girl becomes ensnared in her adoptive family’s amoral dysfunctions.

Still from The Quiet (2005)

WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST:   The Quiet is an artfully produced, comparatively non-formulaic independent film, but it’s not a dramatic enough departure from the thriller genre to constitute a truly weird viewing experience.

COMMENTS:  Strong sexual themes ground this strange tale of a family slowly going insane.  After her father’s untimely death, deaf-mute teenager Dot (Belle) is taken in by her godparents (Donovan, Falco) who from outward appearances have a conventional, affluently idyllic suburban life along with their cheerleader daughter Nina (Cuthbert).  Dot’s transition is derailed by increasingly disturbing conflicts and revelations. Her new family has dark secrets.

A sick, twisted dysfunctionality plagues the household.  Trapped between an opiate addict mother, licentious father, homicidal sister, and perverted new beau, Dot struggles to keep her perspective.  Unable to readily communicate, and with no outside party to turn to, Dot is at a disadvantage when her demented new family draws her into a sordid web of immorality and charade.  The line between spider and fly becomes blurred, however, when it turns out that Dot harbors her own eerie enigma.

The Quiet rips the facade from blissful, suburban tranquility in the tradition of movies such as American Beauty and The Safety Of Objects.  Less satirical than the former and not as convoluted as the later, The Quiet is a suspenseful drama with an hypnotic narrative tone reminiscent of One Day Like Rain and Make-Out with Violence.

The Quiet is a well produced film with a perverse story.  It does not set out to be a black comedy, or a sophisticated social indictment of suburbia, although it contains some elements of both.  Neither is it a movie with a message or mere exploitation.  The Quiet is a simple, racy, psychological thriller.  With some hauntingly memorable dialogue, it is arty yet lucid, brooding and visually dark.  While more twists and turns would have provided greater depth, it is structurally complete enough to be worthwhile for patrons seeking a departure from blockbusters, crowd-pleasers, and annoying Lifetime Network potboilers.

Feminist director Jamie Babbit’s other films include But I’m A Cheerleader and Itty Bitty Titty Comittee.  Viewers will recognize Cuthbert from the sensational The Girl Next Door.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…flirts with the trappings of exploitation cinema without going all the way. The director… suggestively crowds her two talented leads together, but can’t push them or the film into the fairy-tale surrealism to which she seems to aspire.”–Manohla Dargis, The New York Times (contemporaneous)


The Quiet trailer

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