THE QUIET marks the second film from Jamie Babbitt, who made something
of a splash in 1999 and 2000 with her debut feature
After honing her craft working in television, especially on the cult hit
Babbitt shows an affinity for working with rising stars and with material aimed at
the teen market. (She also shows up in Kirby Dick's documentary about the MPAA
THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED discussing the problems over her debut's rating.)
THE QUIET, though, is a schizophrenic movie that has more plot turns than six
months worth of daytime dramas. It's a shame, because the actors involved are
top notch and there is a germ of a terrific thriller in the first produced motion
picture screenplay by Abdi Nazemian and Micah Schraft. But somehow in its
THE QUIET got a little muddled.

The story revolves around Dot (Camilla Belle) who was recently left
orphaned after the death of her father. Since her mother had died years earlier
and she seemingly has no other relatives, her godparents (Martin Donovan and
Edie Falco) have taken her in. This doesn't exactly sit too well with their daughter
Nina (Elisha Cuthbert), a popular cheerleader who once had been best friends
with Dot. Now she and her clique treat the other girl as a freak, partly because              
Dot is deaf and doesn't speak.

Clearly the intention of the filmmakers was to create a dark drama that
would explore the underbelly of suburbia. One of the main problems is that
there have been so many films that have attempted this with varying degrees of
success that the topic has almost become a subgenre of movies. Directors from
David Lynch to Sam Mendes have plumbed this idea with varying results. That
Babbit and company have tried to frame their tale as something of a mystery
is intriguing, but the surprises are telegraphed to the audience long before the
characters on screen learn them, thanks in part to lazy writing.

The actors all try gamely to make something out of the characters they
are playing but the dialogue defeats them. Indie stalwart Martin Donovan
deserves better as does Edie Falco Shawn Ashmore has some of the most risible
dialogue and one wonders how he managed to keep a straight face while
delivering it. Cuthbert exhibits some range; one can only guess what she would
be able to do with stronger material. Belle is something of a cipher in what
may be construed as the title role.

               Rating:        C-
               MPAA Rating: R

                      Viewed at the SONY Screening Room        
The Quiet
©  2006 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.