A Quiet Place

Movie Review by Joan Ellis –

A Quiet Place

Just to level with you at the outset: I’m no fan of horror movies. When good reports began to sift in about A Quiet Place, it seemed the best choice during this extremely weak movie spring. Just about two minutes passed before the originality and skill up there on the screen scared the audience into stone cold silence. Who is responsible for this wickedly absorbing movie?

Director John Krasinski worked with writers Bryan Woods and Scott Beck to bring this story to life. We are pulled in on the 89th day after a slew of monsters invaded the land around a New York State family. Because the monsters’ eyes can’t guide them successfully to the food they need, they pounce and eat anything that makes a noise. The Abbott family learns quickly to live in absolute silence, to walk barefoot, to sneak through life to avoid becoming food for the invaders. That premise ensures that the story will be delivered in silence while occasional background music reflects different moods. Complete quiet invites us to reexamine the noises of our own world.

Father Lee (John Krasinski) spends his time trying to figure out how to send an SOS to the bigger world. Mother Evelyn (Emily Blunt) tends her children – teenager Regan (Millicent Simmonds) and eight-year-old Marcos (Noah Jupe). Both of these young people understand the disastrous possibilities of noise and both are cooperative and clever. No arguments in this situation, just how are they going to stay alive if these monsters hear even the noise from a dropped bottle cap – or when someone steps on a nail?

As for Mom and Dad, John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, married in real life, do a beautiful job of creating two people who stay calm in the face of catastrophe. Each is believable in this outsize state of horror and both are dedicated to saving their children. Whenever a tiny noise erupts, a monster surges in for food. It is probably best just to say the actors are so good that you will be glued to your seat in fear. Each of them is not just credible, but inventive. The filmmakers were wise to delay the arrival of the monsters until late in the movie. Watching a family cope with living in silence gives us time to appreciate each of them. We don’t want anything bad to happen.

In a dire situation we’ve never imagined, this family wins us completely and then, suddenly a noise followed by the inevitable invasion of the actual monsters explodes. Those of you who love horror may love these final minutes. Those of us who don’t will keep rooting for the people we have come to know. Just hang in and imagine the creativity it took to create a world of absolute silence for an entire family. And when you go home, have fun listening to the sounds in the world around you that you thought was so quiet. Did someone just drop a bottlecap?

Film Critic: JOAN ELLIS
Film Title : A Quiet Place
Word Count: 498
Running Time: 1:30
Rating: PG-13
Date: 22 April 2018


The Leisure Seeker

Movie Review by Joan Ellis –

The Leisure Seeker

Watching Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland create a movie called The Leisure Seeker was a positive prospect. Advance word promised they would travel from their home in Wellesley, MA to Key West on her promise to bring her husband at last to see the home of his hero, Ernest Hemingway.

Mirren and Sutherland. Each is known for making roles jump alive and they try hard here. Why then, does it fall flat? That’s not an easy question because it’s wholesome fun watching them drive south in their old-fashioned Winnebago motor home that bears the name Leisure Seeker. This American road trip is done well – campgrounds, casual conversations with strangers, small bonfires, and finally the stretch across the magnificent highway that soars over the water from Florida to Key West. That suspended road carries drivers not just across the multiple miles of water but through another emotional world that belongs only to the driver at the wheel. With no distractions, we have left the earth and travel mile after mile as if suspended from any world we know.

So, what’s the problem? Think of how ignorant we Americans often look when we root our stories in a foreign culture. The Italian director has done that here. Just before the couple heads south, we watch a Trump rally in Wellesley, one of the most liberal towns in America and one of the least likely to celebrate Trumpian beliefs. Later on, we watch Ella storm into an old age home armed with a shot gun as she demands to see an old boyfriend from years ago. Those scenes aren’t just out of place; they’re just plain silly.

But then we return to watching two fine actors chat with both affection and annoyance as they travel the country one last time. We watch Ella (Hellen Mirren) and John (Donald Sutherland) interact with love and loyalty sprinkled with bouts of impatience on Ella’s part. She’s not well either, but tells no one, and husband John is thoroughly absorbed with his literary heroes. Best of all, when things are going well we watch their appreciation of being free on the road together on a beautiful adventure.

They do this while refusing to tell their two adult children where they are, knowing those grown kids would have refused to let them board the Winnebago. One more negative is the casting of these two. Their son (Christian McKay) is a gay man who comes across as an incompetent nutcase without our ever understanding why. Although their daughter (Janel Moloney) seems slightly more sane, we are happy they don’t have bigger parts. Another minor reservation: can anyone identify for me the roots of Helen Mirren’s accent?

It’s a shame the final road trip given us by two of today’s finest actors isn’t better. If you go, just enjoy their efforts and plant yourself emotionally in the Winnebago as it makes its way to that superb highway to Key West.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Film Title : The Leisure Seeker
Word Count : 501
Running Time : 1:52
Rating : R
Date : 15 April 2018