Review: The Quiet

A deafening silence

Dino Pollard, Sta

Some films are perfect for mass audiences. They’re feel-good, they make you laugh, and once the lights come back on, you can leave the theater without a negative thought in your head. But then there are other films that are far more disturbing and leave the audience with a feeling of unease.

The Quiet definitely falls into the latter category. Dot (Camilla Belle), a mute and deaf teenager, has just lost her father. Her godparents, Paul (Martin Donovan) and Olivia (Edie Falco) take her into their home to live with them and their daughter, Nina (Elisha Cuthbert).

Dot faces a number of challenges in this new setting. At school, she is basically an outcast and frequently the butt of jokes from Nina and her friend Michelle (Katy Mixon). The only student who shows her any sort of affection is her lab partner, Connor (Shawn Ashmore).

At home, Dot is not given much attention by her godparents. Olivia is addicted to prescription drugs and spends most of her time passed out. Paul, however, has an even darker secret. For years, Paul and Nina have been engaged in an incestuous relationship.

Before watching this film, I read reviews from several critics and most of them were negative. After watching it, I honestly can’t understand why. Yes, the subject matter is very questionable and undeniably disturbing. But director Jamie Babbit weaves the story together in an excellent manner. The relationship between Nina and her father, Dot’s relationship with Connor, and Dot’s own secret are all given proper development.

The performances are all stellar. Donovan’s performance as Paul is particularly haunting. At first, it is simply assumed he is an unsavory character. But there is one scene where his character takes a surprising turn: he reveals to Dot that he brought her to the house because he knows he’s sick, and he hopes her presence will be enough to get him to end his relationship with his daughter. Cuthbert is both sympathetic and detestable at the same time. Ashmore’s performance is pretty much the trademark performance for him. While his character would typically be a stereotypical jock, Ashmore creates perhaps the most sympathetic character in the whole film.

But the standout performance is from Camilla Belle. Unlike her co-stars, Belle could not rely on dialogue for her performance. Instead, she’s limited to gestures and facial expressions, and each one is magnificent. A simple look from her says far more than an entire script ever could. Belle is a very talented young actress, and I have a feeling we will be hearing more from her in the future.

Should you see The Quiet? That all depends on you. The film explores some very weighty topics and not everyone can deal with that. But for those who can, The Quiet is a must-see film. It’s rated R and is now showing in select theaters.