Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The (not so) Quiet

"The Quiet" (dir. Jamie Babbit, US, 2006, 96 mins.) This maybe the closest thing we get to "Mommie Dearest" in a LONG time! It's terrible! I mean, LAUGHINGLY BAAAAD!! BAD in the way that could be a HOOT of a movie if you and group of your friends got together, had some cocktails and watch a group of decent actors get completely lost by a BAD (I am talking "what the hell were you thinking?!") script and really, poor direction. Jamie Babbit ("But I'm A Cheerleader"), who features heavily in the MPAA tell-all documentary "This Film Has Not Yet Been Rated", doesn't seem to have any control over the material. The events that take place in this 'suburban teenage girl melodrama' are so unrelentingly hideous, that the press screening I attended generated giggles and out right laughter. Martin Donovan ("The Opposite of Sex") plays the EVIL father to Elisha Cuthbert's ("24" and associate producer of this thing) damaged daughter, whose mother is played by Edie Falco ("The Sopranos"). This dysfunctional (and that is SUCH an understatement!) family is observed by the arrival of 'Dot', played by Camilla Belle ("The Ballad of Jack and Rose"). She is newly orphaned, having just lost her father, and has been taken in by this 'family'. Oh, and she does not speak.

So, the underlying psychological set up here is two girls with intense father issues: one is abused and one is abandoned, though he died. How do they relate? How will they heal each other? That MIGHT have made a decent after-school special. However, in this "Showgirls"-for-the-high-school-set, the EVIL that the two girls are surrounded by is so venomous, that one almost gets a thrill to see just how far is this going to push it?

Donovan, who is one of the smartest and hunkiest actors on the indie circuit, seems to have dug deep to make sense of the performance he is required to do here. I wish, or at least hope, that he voiced concerns about the script. Falco is either miscast or completely at a loss of how to play the 'zombie-mom' of this family unit. Cuthbert actually comes close to being a human in this tragedy as any character in the cast. However, the character's choices are so extreme and lacking any kind of self-awareness, she psychologically resembles a 'slasher flick ingenue'. Newcomer Katy Mixon, as Cuthbert's best friend, is given some of the most caustic dialogue since Larry Clark's "Kids". Her character does not have a SINGLE redeeming moment, to the point that I could NOT believe that she would be at all popular. The boy that ALL the girls are after is played by Shawn Ashmore ('Iceman' of the "X-Men" films), and he is given a horrifically stupid chauvinistic monologue about his penis. None of these characters say, do or think anything that might incur the sympathy or empathy of the viewer. I deliciously awaited their come-uppance!

This totally screwed up cast of characters revolve around 'Dot', who Belle is forced to play as a cipher, though she has a seemingly endless interior monologue, played out in a seemingly endless narration. She does not perform any facial or physical revelation of the interior pain which has forced her into her 'disability' until THE BIG MOMENT!!! (And it was at THE BIG MOMENT that the room erupted into guffaws!) She just sits/stands/lays there, looking dumbly as the rest of them spew their inner most hideous secrets to her, since they believe she can't hear them.

Oh gawd, enough about the plot and cast! Let's move on to the look of it. Grey. Dusty, foggy grey. In fact, I would be hard pressed to recall an outside, day shot. It's just not a pretty movie to look at, which is a real shame, as Donovan, Falco, Ashmore and Cuthbert can be quite gorgeous when photographed well.

I don't know what more to actually say about this thing, except to wonder how did it gain distribution? How is it going to be marketed? It won't possibly have any pull-quotes in its advertising. But, it would do well in the home rental "let's watch a trainwreck tonight!" market!

1 comment:

Maxxxxx said...

"Stop it! Stop it!"