The Quiet is movie that had great potential but decided to throw itself off the tracks with ineffectual plot twists that derailed the main elements of the film and a final act that is idiotic, a shame and a blatant under-use of two talented young actresses. The story of The Quiet revolves around Dot (Camilla Belle), a deaf girl whose father has recently died and who has gone to live with friends of the family. Paul Deer (Martin Donovan), the father of the family taking Dot in, is having an inappropriate relationship with his teenage daughter Nina Deer (Elisha Cuthbert) unbeknownst to his constantly self-medicating wife Olivia Deer (Edie Falco).
Camilla Belle is initially given an interesting character to play whose substance is eventually destroyed by unnecessary and moronic plot contrivances that an immature Shyamalan hack might conjure up. Writers Abdi Nazemian and Micah Scraft should tilt their heads in disgrace at the movie they could have written and sloppy one they churned out. Being a girl in high school is an experience in and of itself but being a deaf one that has to read lips is a high school experience of a totally different order. How does she take notes in class? If she knows the answers to asked questions, what is her recourse? How does she tell the teacher she has to go to the bathroom? How does she make friends if no one can get to know her personality? How can she ever tell a boy she likes what she feels and how does she get a date to dances or the prom? If these and other questions had been approached and addressed through Dot and the plot of The Quiet, the film would be worth watching multiple times. Viewers might actually root for Dot and be engrossed in the film by her struggle to overcome the aforementioned challenges. None of this is the case in The Quiet.
One of the main problems with The Quiet is the narration provided by Camilla Belle. If a writer or director wants to inform the audience what it is like to be in a crowd of people yet feel totally alone, why not show people talking and holding conversations in the school hallways one minute then through Dot’s eyes (from her perspective) render the remainder of the scene in complete and perfect silence? That would have been vastly more effective and appropriate for her character. The narration in The Quiet grows less and less essential as the film progresses to the point where it’s actually intrusive and unnecessary in the last few instances.
The dialog in The Quiet is above average in more than a few places but is over shadowed by everything else going on in the film. On the bright side of things, this is Elisha Cuthbert’s best film performance to date. Cuthbert’s Nina has the majority of the most graphic and disturbing dialog in the film, especially during one particular lunchroom scene where the camera is close up on Cuthbert and Belle’s faces. It’s too bad the film it’s housed in turns from initially interesting to lousy before its third act is even complete and the credits begin rolling. Of note on the lighter aspects of the film is Connor (Shawn Ashmore), a fellow highschool who has eyes for Dot and hence, has some of the most memorable and unexpectedly funny dialog in the entire film.
Jamie Babbit’s The Quiet is a film of missed opportunity but for the first two acts is an entertaining waste of your time. The ideas behind this film deserved a better cinematic presentation than what they received. Cuthbert and Belle’s careers deserved better. The viewer for damn sure deserves better, especially considering what movie theaters are charging for admission these days.