Can I get in on this secret?

Theatrical Release Date: 08/25/2006
Director: Jamie Babbit
Cast: Elisha Cuthbert, Camilla Belle

I’ve been waiting for a month or so for some film to come out that just plain sucks. I’ve been writing so-so to great reviews one after the other lately and I was hoping “The Quiet” would be just what I’ve been looking for.

Dammit, it’s better than the trailer made it out to be and better than I thought its clichéd premise could deliver on. But don’t rush right out to see it quite yet.

If you’ve seen the trailer, then I think you were like me – thinking, “Well, it looks like crap but Elisha Cuthbert is wearing a cheerleader’s outfit, so there’s at least something worthwhile.”

I’m not even going to lie, that’s the reason I saw this film in the first place. While even her fairly decent performance in “The Girl Next Door” did add a little more acting credibility to her in my mind, it’s how she looks in a tight clothing that I like the most. And it still is.

However, maybe because the director was a woman (Babbit), one of my biggest problems with the film is that the only nudity comes from Falco. I’ve read somewhere that Cuthbert doesn’t want to do nudity and all I can say is that’s a shame.

I don’t know what Camilla Belle’s personal proclivities are but I also encourage her to follow in the footsteps of Anne Hathaway. She’s done nudity in a few films and her career is fine and dandy. (Don’t worry loyal readers, I will make sure to continue my obsession and ask, “Anne, give me a call!”)

Back to the film overall, “The Quiet” revolves around the Deer family. Cuthbert plays the daughter, a popular cheerleader; Belle the deaf-mute taken in by the Deer family; Martin Donovan is the domineering father with a bit too much love for his daughter and Edie Falco is the pill-popping mom too out of it to see what’s happening in her own home.

Normally, I wouldn’t give so much away but the trailer puts it all out there really and it isn’t long into the film before you see what’s going on and what will probably happen.

And while this summer has been chockers (Good Aussie slang, mate … fair dinkum!) with predictable films, I am again able to be okay with it. What I liked about “The Quiet” was the chemistry between Cuthbert and Belle, the creepy Donovan and the somber mood created by the director and the music (loads of Beethoven).

I’ll get to my problems with the film in a second but first I’ll applaud the director’s methodical unraveling of the family. While none of the “twists” are hard to see coming, they appear at a nice pace and aren’t too over handed.

The performances by the two lead girls are done pretty well and Donovan is fantastic as the creepy Dad. He just exudes slime. Falco is a bit miscast here and it’s her character that gets the shortest end of the stick in character development, so I can’t say it’s all her fault.

The two primary supporting characters are played by Shawn Ashmore and Katy Mixon. Ashmore plays the school heartthrob and gave a surprisingly honest look at what guys would be like if they were talking to a deaf girl.

Mixon plays another popular cheerleader whose middle name should be a combination of the words “bitch” and “slut” (Blut? Slitch?). Mixon really had fun with the role and she nearly steals all of her scenes.

Acting aside, the aforementioned Beethoven really adds to the atmosphere of the film. It’s almost another character and if the music had just been a bunch of emo trendy noise, then maybe I would have had the bomb I had initially been hoping for.

Still, there are numerous problems with “The Quiet”. First, a lot of really interesting psychological issues are brought up. None of them are really examined though. To use a hastily thought up analogy, the threads that could have weaved a wooly sweater serve only to get caught in the zipper of my backpack.

Okay, so I didn’t do well on that section of the SAT.

Anywho, aside from not really exploring the issues, the film also wraps itself up so quickly and loosely, it’s like me wrapping presents with one square of a paper grocery bag and some scotch tape.

Badly worded analogy? Sure. Do I wrap presents that badly? You betcha.

The film has a runtime nearing two hours and I would say that the ending is done in the last 5 and a half minutes. I thought about waiting until after the credits to see if there was more to the ending but I had to make sure to get to the store to buy some soda.

Even with all of those negative aspects, I again admit that I was pleasantly surprised by “The Quiet”. While I would have been happier to have another dog of a film to beat with my keyboard, it was nice to watch a moody film full of dysfunctional and broken characters.

There is a lot of room for improvement with this film but if you are a fan of independent dramas that center on dysfunctional families, I think there’s something to like here.

I’m giving “The Quiet” a 2 out of 5. I know that’s under the passing grade but I really can’t forgive how carelessly Babbit wraps everything up and doesn’t focus on the more intense and thought provoking psychological aspects involved in the story. Still, I credit her with setting a nice tone and exceeding my wildest expectations for what appeared to be little more than a “don’t touch me there, daddy” after school special. But it’s only a little more that.