It seems almost impossible, and yet there it is:
A movie, in the twenty-first Century, without a word of dialogue in its first hour.
The silence of this film is almost painful. Early on, there is only the faintest hint of a score, and a sudden noise is enough to make the audience jump.
We get little information about what is going on, beyond what we can see. There is a collection of newspaper clippings in one scene, about a series of mysterious disappearances, mixed with scare headlines warning people not to make noise, and to hide underground. it isn’t much of an explanation, and it isn’t meant to be.
Instead, this is a film about a family, a family who struggle to stay alive and stay together, knowing that the slightest sound will bring the deadly creatures searching for them.
And, just to make it more difficult, the mother is about to have a child.
This is a stunning film. The sheer audacity of it is impressive, but it is also remarkably well done, building layers of careful detail and working in some very real human drama, and setting it in a post-Apocalyptic world in which they are very much alone, even if there might be others out there. One is constantly amazed at the ingenious ways they have adapted to their plight, and at the interesting visuals used to achieve this.
Two of the most interesting — and critical — threads of the story involve the daughter. I find it intriguing that a very important fact about her is hinted at and only gradually revealed. It is something that would not have worked in any other film, and yet the director, John Krasinski, pulls it off effortlessly.
John also stars, contributed to the script and helped produce the film. I suspect most people remember him from The Office (the American version), but he also directed two comedies. This hardly seems enough to explain how he could make such a film: his use of silence in a sound film — where the sound itself is critical to that silence, reminds me a little bit of some of Fritz Lang’s innovative use of sound to create moments that are effectively silent in Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse, although Lang is doing almost the opposite. But perhaps those scenes are somewhat less of a feat as Lang started out making silent films. John Krasinski’s portrayal of the father is impressive as well, particularly considering how much of his performance is necessarily a physical one.
Emily Blunt deserves a great deal of praise here as well: very few actresses these days are as willing as she is to play roles where she has to be unglamorous for most of the film, and that is certainly the case here, where she is pregnant, tired, wet or scared in so many scenes.
Perhaps the most interesting touch is the important place prayer plays in the family’s life — and that, unlike so many portrayals of family life these days, this is a family with strong bonds of love, where the father is allowed to be strong, and to make great sacrifices for his children.
CGI monsters have become a little too familiar these days, but I have to admit that the beasts’ strange heads, with all the multiple moving ear parts are fascinating, whether they are believable or not.
I know the nitpickers out there have complained about this detail or that, but then they always do. I find, for a film that is primarily a horror film, A Quiet Place‘s science fictional elements are at least consistent and logical. That isn’t particularly common, even in the world of Independent and lower budgeted films.
All in all, this is an excellent and well made film, just perfect for a dark night, after things have got quiet.
Maybe too quiet.
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