It's difficult to tell what the makers of The Quiet had in mind. To show the dark underside of suburban living? To offer a refreshingly naïve take on incest? To give aspiring screenwriters a new example of the kind of dialogue real people would never engage in? To let filmgoers dwell upon the physical assets of nubile young women? From our vantage point, The Quiet was made to illustrate, once and for all, that it's possible for a film to be soooo slow and ponderous it can appear, at times, to come to a dead stop.
But then, there's a certain built-in pacing problem in making the central character a near-catatonic deaf mute. Dot is her name, and she's a teenage orphan who's taken in by a suburban Connecticut family, the Deers, which includes a teen daughter, Nina (Elisha Cuthbert), mom Olivia (Edie Falco) and dad Paul (Martin Donovan). Dot is played by a lifeless Camilla Belle, whose occasional soporific voice-overs (mostly about Beethoven) barely rise above the sonorous, mostly Beethoven soundtrack.
Naturally, the perky Nina resents the dormant Dot, but eventually they grow close--oddly enough, because Dot finds out what Nina's doing with Dad after Mom passes out from her nightly Vicodin overdose. Of course, Nina's best chum Michelle (Katy Mixon) has no use at all for Dot, especially when she sees that Connor (Shawn Ashmore), the hunk she has her eye on, has his eye on Dot.
But it's the resolution of Nina's hot-and-cold dalliance with her dad that sets in motion the film's sole interesting plot development. It comes too late, however-because by then any viewer who's still watching The Quiet has stayed in his/her seat for only one reason: to catch the next great, guffaw-producing line of dialogue. As a mild example: Dad calls Nina while she's in school to coyly ask if, at that moment, she's wearing her cheerleader's uniform. Or, later, when Connor learns that all the secrets he's told Dot were not as "private" as he thought, he whispers, "You mean you sat there listening to me talking about my dick?" Unfortunately, most of the other zingers are too chockfull of four-letter words to quote here.
The less said about the script and direction and the performances in The Quiet, the better. However, one feels compelled to ask this: Why did Edie Falco take this role? Her character has very few scenes and precious little to do-except stay in a permanently stoned state, which Falco conveys by fixing her wide-open eyes on some piece of lint wafting around in the middle distance. In her one moment of high drama, Falco is seen wearing low-rider panties--and nothing else--in an attempt to be seductive. So how does she take the subsequent rejection? Why, she throws herself on the bedroom carpet in a whiny fit. Oh, Edie, Edie, Edie...if Tony Soprano saw that, he'd split a gut laughing.