September 7, 2006

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The Quiet (R)
Daughters take their disturbing relationships with their fathers to creepy new levels in the teen suspense movie The Quiet.

With its classical music score and dreamy narration, The Quiet so desperately seems to want to be ďImportant.Ē It is, instead, Absurd and Occasionally Laughable. So let that be a lesson to you, movies that feature 24ís Elisha Cuthbert yet still want to be taken seriously. There is a fundamental Donít-Take-Me-Seriously scowling-teenager quality about that girl that can really increase a movieís goofiness level.

Nina Deer (Cuthbert) is such a vile girl that only something as horrific as being the victim of her sexual predator father (Martin Donovan) could make her seem sympathetic. Well, being the victim of incest and having even more vile friends, such as the sexually aggressive Michelle (Katy Mixon), who seems to make a pass at everything that moves. Nina flounces around her high school in a cheerleader uniform, at once a purposeful tease and sexually disinterested. Her behavior appalls and excites Dear old dad and is completely unnoticed by her pill-stuff mother (Edie Falco). Her behavior also appalls and possibly worries Dot (Camilla Belle), a childhood friend who has come to live with Ninaís family after the death of Dotís parents.

Alrighty, so, for those of you who have friends or family members who work at a movie theater and can get into films free (I canít imagine any situation in which someone would consider paying to see this film in a theater), SPOILER ALERT. Thereís a fundamental feature of Dotís personality that I canít explain honestly without giving away something that, heck why not, the movie gives away fairly quickly.

So, if you donít what to know, skip a few paragraphs. Here comes the SPOILERÖ

To the world ó school officials, Ninaís family ó Dot is deaf and mute. As such, she is generally ignored by the students at her school. According to her voiceover, Dot is A-OK with this ó since the death of her father, sheís not so interested in a lot of human contact. At home, however, this deafness allows the psychotic Dears to play out their various melodramas without worrying that she hears them. And both at school and at home, some people rely on her deafness to allow them to talk about their deepest whatevers (hopes, fears, masturbation fantasies).

Perhaps itís because of her supposed deafness that Daddy Dear isnít too worried about Dot hearing him and Nina when they have sex. Though, surprise, Dot does find out. And Nina finds out that Dot is perhaps not as limited, sense-wise, as is believed. And thus begins an entertaining taunting between Nina and Dot about the extent of Dotís deafness and what moral duty being able to hear (and therefore knowing about Ninaís relationship with her father and Ninaís violent plans for her father) might put on Dot.

Assume for a moment that Dot is completely deaf ó she still reads lips and can feel the breath of someone talking into her hear. For this reason, a good half of the scenes of people talking to her and Dot appearing not to know are absurd. Iím not sure whether the fault lies with the director or the actress here but certainly somebody should have made the ďis she deaf, isnít she deaf?Ē question a little more mysterious. It also seems like, for a girl who claims to want no part of the world, she certainly goes to great pains to put herself on the edge of the Nina melodrama even before she understands fully why her former friend is such a flaming bitch.

OK, SPOILER OVER. Even if the secrets that give this story what little motivation it has hadnít been given away in the trailer and even if a single person on the cast had given a decent performance (for the record, the trailers did and the actors donít), The Quiet would not have a single redeeming feature. The movie goes for tabloid sensationalism but still wants some credit for nonexistent artiness. Neither goal is reached and the film winds up a brainless and unpleasant waste of time. F

ó Amy Diaz


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