A Quiet Place
“Krasinski lifts up not just himself, but others in the creation of A Quiet Place.”
Title: A Quiet Place
Director: John Krasinski 👨🏼🇺🇸
Writers: Bryan Woods 👨🏼🇺🇸, Scott Beck 👨🏼🇺🇸, and John Krasinski 👨🏼🇺🇸
Reviewed by Li 👩🏻🇺🇸
A Quiet Place is an exacting film that reads like a survivalist’s guide to the apocalypse, complete with an alpha male protector who goes out to hunt while his pregnant, barefoot wife does laundry and homeschools their children. Luckily, John Krasinski’s debut film goes beyond this regressive exterior. Technical feats like an acute grasp of pacing and rhythm leads the audience on a merry chase through whiplash contrasts: claustrophobic walls to the open, naked outdoors; screeching eardrum shatterers to hold-your-breath silence; gut-wrenching grief to simple and sublime joys like listening to soft, lilting music as you sway with the one you love.
I’m tempted to give the film a perfect score in this category, save for one holdover from its monster movie DNA: plot holes. I found myself wondering at multiple points throughout the film, “Why doesn’t she just throw rocks instead of setting a timer?” or “Why didn’t the family plan a meet-up point for any potential separation?” Regardless of these distractions, however, A Quiet Place is an exacting film that stands above the rest through its modern approach of casting and consulting deaf talent, to tremendous results.
The cast is tiny, with just six roles listed on IMDB. Of them, two are women. Emily Blunt plays Evelyn, the matriarch of the Abbotts, and Millicent Simmonds plays her daughter, Regan.
Evelyn and her husband, Lee (John Krasinski) intensely conform to gender roles. Evelyn is characterized by her role as a mother, and her scenes largely take place indoors; a stark contrast to Lee who spends much of his time in the wilderness or locked inside his man cave as he builds DIY hearing aids for his daughter.
On the other hand, their children gently challenge those same roles. Regan actively strains against having to stay indoors with her mother and her character is assertive and physical, particularly in contrast to her younger brother Marcus (Noah Jupe) who fears the outdoors. Marcus is sensitive and loving, and he's the one who builds an emotional bridge between Regan and her father, who share the film’s most complex and rewarding relationship.
In short, you never get the sense that Evelyn or Regan are lesser than Lee or Marcus. And even though Evelyn does spend much of the film waddling around pregnant, she can still shove a double-barrel shotgun into a monster's face and make them cry uncle. Sure, it’s empowerment in the lowest form of expression, but for a film that measures strength by sheer survival, it makes her—and her highly capable daughter—the ultimate “badasses”.
Also helping this category is the bold narrative decision made towards the end of the film to launch Evelyn and Regan as the major protagonists. While it can feel condescending to continually show men as “handing off the keys” to women before they are allowed to flourish, the final result is a welcome one nonetheless.
GradeMyMovie.com Assessment: 0% of key cast and crew members were POC (!!!).
According to GradeMyMovie.com, there are literally no creative decision-makers of color who helped bring A Quiet Place into being. It follows, then, that the cast is entirely white.
The film does get a small boost, however, for having such a small cast. The scope is extremely narrow, and anyway I would rather have no representation at all than awful representation. So let’s just say that if you’re here for racial diversity, you won’t find it here. But neither will you be annoyed by its sheer inundation of white actors, à la Dunkirk (2017) or Darkest Hour (2017).
Bonus for Disability: +1.00
Far and away my favorite aspect of A Quiet Place is its modern take on how to draw from—and empower—marginalized voices. While reviewers within the deaf community have had both positive and tempered reactions, what I unabashedly appreciate is Krasinski’s insistence on hiring deaf talent to help shape the film, something he called “non-negotiable” during the creative process.
On deaf representation itself, writer Pamela J. Kincheloe does make great points about how A Quiet Place remains centered upon hearing culture. She says:
“Being in ‘A Quiet Place,’ that is, a place of deafness and silence, is not to be desired, according to the film. It is nightmarish...Ultimately, sound, in the form of technology, helps kill off the monsters, and it is technology that restores the ‘normalcy’ that will save the human species.”
Regardless its retreading of many deaf tropes, however, Kincheloe maintains that she is cheering for the film for its exposure of hearing audiences to the "Deaf-World".
Mediaversity Grade: B 4.00/5
Krasinski leverages his position of power to lift up not just himself, but others in the creation of A Quiet Place. By bringing Simmonds to the table and moreover, listening to her, he’s created something that enriches everyone. Audiences are the ultimate benefactors, and I can only hope that future directors will take a page from his book. The more that creatives push themselves to see the world from perspectives outside their own, the more interesting their stories will be.