The Quiet Reviewed (Alex's Take)
by Alex Billington
September 2, 2006
The Quiet is another movie, like the other recent independent film Brick, that left me confused; I can't quite figure out whether it was truly enjoyable or truly a letdown. The Quiet is mysterious and intriguing; director Jamie Babbit demonstrates excellent control over the mood and style, though I noticed some problems with plot structure and flow. Based off of its marketing and trailers, I started off with high expectations for something thrilling and shocking from start to finish, but was unfortunately presented with a different vision and bumpy story. The Quiet could have been pulled together and solidified with better editing, but editor Joan Sobel did a lackluster job of bringing the story together.
The Quiet is about two teenage girls, Nina (Elisha Cuthbert) and Dot (Camilla Belle). Dot is an orphaned deaf-mute teenager whose parents have passed away, most recently her father, and is taken in by her godparents and their daughter Nina. A thrilling story ensues as Dot, who can read lips, begins to discover the secrets of Nina's family. While the story does make some rough twists, in the way a child asked to draw a circle ends up drawing an oval, The Quiet turns into what everyone saw coming from a mile away. It had a hopeful start but missed the proper execution and direction to turn it into a masterpiece. Multiple side plots, including the high school "boy hottie" Connor (Shawn Ashmore), are left open-ended. Dot narrates much of the movie, a decision which feels like a quick fix to tie up the story and the front-end.
Cuthbert and Belle delivered nominal performances at best. None of the acting stood out as substantial. Belle put forth the greatest effort with her menacing glances and powerful body language as the deaf-mute Dot, but don't expect to see her in Oscar contention. Even Martin Donovan as Nina's mentally corrupt father and Edie Falco as the drug addict mother didn't live up to everything I'd hoped they'd be. In a film with isolated characters and a continuous mysteriousness, neither of Nina's parents were played with enough gravitas.
The most satisfying element was the underlying Beethoven melodies scattered throughout, either played in an empty room on a piano by Dot herself or via the soundtrack. The loneliness and isolated feeling, assisted largely by the soundtrack, was one of the strongest and most well defined I have seen. This is what made the film so compelling, given the particular flaws with its storyline. In one of the best scenes, Nina delivers a great voice-over stating how the quiet before the storm has become the quiet after the storm, all while Belle's character plays another Beethoven song on the piano. This is one of the few examples where Babbit pulled together the proper elements to the viewers' minor satisfaction.
For most, The Quiet will be a depressing letdown. The Quiet is at least worth a watch for anyone looking for a dark, suspenseful and compelling film, but I found it largely unsatisfying. The poor editing and storyline outweigh the compelling soundtrack and character isolation. The Quiet is another independent film that tried hard to be something that it just couldn't live up to, and in return was just another mediocre film.