REVIEW: The Quiet [2005]

“Can you ever forgive me?”

The premise for The Quiet always had me intrigued—a deaf mute girl living with a family hiding some dark secrets. Seeing an opportunity to tell this secret, to someone that can’t speak it to anyone if she even read her lips enough to comprehend it, the daughter relays that she will be killing her sexually abusive father. Just by watching the trailers you can see that there is something hidden within the mute girl herself, and you want to find out how the events play out. This story had great potential to give a taut thriller where the suspense could become unbearable. While I don’t agree totally with much of what I read critically about the film, I definitely can’t refute the mentions of horrible atrocities both physical and mental going on. There are some definite tough moments to sit through here, however, those were the moments that worked best for me—the times where the tension was high and the acting superb and real. Unfortunately, The Quiet also contains multiple instances of inappropriate dialogue and unnecessary crassness. With the dialogue so out of place in many moments, I was taken out of the film often and it’s really too bad because the climax was executed perfectly and almost made me forget how bad everything before it was…almost.

By having a plot that basically adds little to what is given away in the trailer, The Quiet really needs to rely on its acting. As the story progresses you become more and more aware of what is happening and what will have to come of it all, however, you don’t really mind waiting for the inevitable because you want to see how these characters handle the situations they are working towards. The ever-beautiful Elisha Cuthbert really surprised me with how well she portrayed the abused daughter trying to keep up a prom queen façade. Her only real shining moment previously was in The Girl Next Door; she played the part to perfection, using her looks to enhance what the role called for and had great comedic timing and nice dramatic chops as well. Here, though, she really takes it to the next level. At first you feel it will be another WB type performance that any young, cute actress could do. As the film continues on, Cuthbert is asked to play every emotion possible and she does a fantastic job making you believe what she is going through. Camilla Belle is wonderful as the deaf mute witness to what is happening. She stays in character and has total control of her facial features to portray her feelings without words. Martin Donovan is also effective as the father who understands he has a sickness but can’t control himself, playing the quiet moments nicely while keeping true to the anger and rage needed when called for. The true star, however, is Edie Falco. As a character that is wasted pretty much the entire duration, she is brilliant from the climax on. The emotion on her face would make anyone tear up, as the finish to her story arc is truly devastating to experience.

Tragically, all the performances can’t save the first three quarters of the film. The script is just vulgar for no reason whatsoever. Between the mother calling the deaf girl’s mother a slut over and over again, the love interest talking about masturbating, (Shawn Ashmore’s role is totally superfluous and adds nothing to the plot), and everyone calling Belle’s character names, you can’t help but laugh at the liberties all take when in the presence of a deaf person. I can see where the filmmakers wanted to express the ostracization her disability caused, but they really went unnecessarily too far and against the reality they were trying to create.

The Quiet 5/10 | ★ ★

Also…fantastic poster. The use of color is gorgeous and the cropping riveting. I love it when studios aren’t afraid to have promotional posters that draw the viewer in rather than just show Photoshoped heads of the actors. Just the fact that the film info is in the middle with the title so small makes me call it one of the best posters of 2006.

[1] Left: Elisha Cuthbert as Nina; Right: Camilla Belle as Dot; Photo by Ari Briskman, courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics Inc. @ 2002 CTB Film Company
[2] Martin Donovan as Paul in Sony Pictures Classics’, The Quiet – 2006


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