Hotties Camilla Belle (The Ballad of Jack and Rose) and Elisha Cuthbert ("24", House of Wax) star in The Quiet, a movie that was ravaged by critics but is a surprisingly decent, if not slightly slow, drama-thriller. Yes, Belle and Cuthbert are pleasant to look at, but they alone can't save a movie from sucking big time, and thankfully, The Quiet is not that film. Solid performances and an oddly creepy story combine to make The Quiet one of the more underappreciated films of 2006. Then again, it isn't wonderful, either.
Belle plays unpopular girl Dot, who has been taken in by another family after her parents are killed. A deaf mute, she watches the world with her eyes, and she watches the suburban home where she now lives. Her new "sister" is Nina Deer, one of the most popular girls in school. Nina acts out aggressively at those she sees as below her, including Dot, though as Dot delves into the dark secrets of her new family, the two girls establish a shaky bond. Because she's deaf and mute, people regard Dot as stupid, but she sees what is going on and sees what is about to conspire, and the result will not be pleasant.
Belle is a fine young actress and has the potential to go far in her acting career. With exception to the God-awful When a Stranger Calls, which is by far one of the worst horror movies to ever grace the silver screen, she seems to be mainly sticking to non-teeny bopper films, and for that I respect her. She is good here, though The Quiet does suffer a bit from "fake ugly girl syndrome" - a.k.a. she is regarded as a quiet loser, but in the real world someone as good looking as her would not have as many problems, at least I don't think so. While the material is okay, I do think someone might have been slightly better fitted for the role. Still, she holds her own.
Cuthbert strives on her looks a bit more than her acting talent, though I still think she has potential if she chooses her films right. After the second season of "24", which was a bit of a disaster for her character despite the fact that it was out of her control (the cougar sequence, anyone?), she's been regarded as a bit of a joke, albeit a very hot one. The Quiet is a good film for her to show off her dramatic side without completely venturing into unknown territory. I can't say she is wonderful here, but definitely fits the part quite well.
As for the movie itself, The Quiet is pretty good, but not great. The story and concept is intriguing, though with a different writer the film could have been better. The writing isn't bad by any means, but isn't nearly as deep as director Jamie Babbit clearly wanted it to be. The Quiet has several powerful themes, but none completely resonate appropriately. Additionally, the character development is not as strong as one would expect from a movie of this type.
Still, The Quiet is a lot better than expected, and the movie certainly takes a turn toward the more disturbing at one point. While not everything is fleshed out, Babbit adequately builds tension between its characters and builds up to a relatively satisfying conclusion.
The Quiet isn't without its flaws, but is a lot better than critics give it credit for. Recommended for those who enjoy dark suburban dramas.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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