"Bleak Take on Family Life"
What You Need To Know:
THE QUIET never glamorizes the immoral behavior of its characters. Nevertheless, simply depicting the effects of depravity is inadequate storytelling if there is no moral compass to guide the audience. In THE QUIET, the filmmakers have plunged into the abyss of incest, drug addiction and loathing without the aid of a moral tether. The result is a bleak take on family life and a sordid meditation on destructive behaviors.
(PaPaPa, Ab, LLL, VVV, SSS, NN, DD, MM) Very strong pagan worldview in which characters behave according to their desires, and voiceover denies the idea that "the truth will set you free"; 35 obscenities and two profanities; graphic depiction of a murder in which a throat is slit with a wire; several graphic conversations and references to sex, girls watch porn, girl shows another girl her breast, man describes his masturbation habits, implied and depicted sexual relationship between a father and daughter, and sex between high school students; upper female nudity, female cleavage, girl in her underwear; no alcohol use; prescription drug abuse; and, deceit is a prominent theme, girl shows contempt toward her parents, character tastes the ashes of her cremated father.
As any spelunker knows, even the darkest cave can be explored with the aid of a safety line – a rope that will guide you back to the entrance. But in stories, as in caves, it is deadly to enter the darkness without keeping track of the light. In THE QUIET, the filmmakers have plunged into the abyss of incest, addiction and loathing without the aid of a moral tether. The result is a bleak take on family life and a sordid meditation on loathing and destructive behaviors.
Dot (Camilla Belle) is a recently orphaned high schooler who comes to live with her godparents, Paul and Olivia Deer (Martin Donovan and Edie Falco), much to the consternation of teenage daughter Nina (Elisha Cuthbert). Dot has everyone convinced she’s deaf and mute and is content to be a social outcast, shutting out the people around her as much as she can. The audience knows this because of her voiceover narration which functions throughout the movie as almost the only slit in her silent veil.
Dot fears interactions with people, but because her silence cloaks her in virtual anonymity, she becomes a kind of confidant to whom people reveal their dark secrets – and there are plenty to go around. With the aid of prescription drugs, Olivia Deer keeps herself in a constant state of disconnection and denial as her husband pursues their teenage daughter. Dot is not the passive confessor people think she is, however, and when she learns about the incestuous relationship in the Deer house, she is compelled to take action.
Dot is meant to be the conscience of the story, such as it is. Though her narration provides some insight into her otherwise impenetrable motivation, the narration feels awkward, like a device employed only to ensure the audience will empathize with her.
THE QUIET never glamorizes the immoral behavior of its characters. It is still (fortunately) easy to find the depiction of the father’s incestuous relationship with his daughter detestable or to pity the mother’s self-destruction. The hatred and loathing that result is certainly evident. Nevertheless, simply depicting the effects of depravity is inadequate storytelling if our criterion for evaluating entertainment involves edification. There should be no prohibition against our storytellers wrestling with the human crimes of hatred, rape, incest, murder, genocide, destruction, or suffering. They are part of the world we are called to redeem and the Bible deals very directly with all of them. We must ask our storytellers to do the same, but, without a moral compass, stories are only a tangle of consequences that lead to the grave. We seek stories that are human – not inhuman or humanist. Human stories deal honestly with our corrupted world but never deny or forsake the hopeful implications of the incarnation.
No doubt some think THE QUIET is brave and bold filmmaking, and truly if you have abandoned the very idea of a moral standard, it is bold indeed to undertake an exploration of the human heart. You are liable to get lost in the dark.