While no one predicted A Quiet Place to be a failure, in its opening weekend it surpassed expectations. Opening at number one, the movie raked in $50 million, when Hollywood predicted that optimistically it would bring just $25 million. A 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and word of mouth is thought to have helped boost attendance. Ryan Reynolds, Stephen King and high-profile people aplenty are singing its praises. I was one of the people helping to spread the word.
I am a big Emily Blunt fan and, like everyone else, I have watched every episode of The Office. I was excited to see the real life couple work together for the first time, and while this isn’t the first movie John Krasinski has directed, it would be the first one I watched. I spread the word because it had good reviews and I wanted to support the actors involved.
Last Friday, opening weekend, I watched the movie. If you’re unfamiliar with the premise it’s about a family, Lee (played by Krasinski), Evelyn (played by Blunt) and their children, living in a post-apocalyptic world where monsters hunt anything living, but only by sound. Make a noise and they’re on you within seconds. A review I read said to watch it in a crowded theatre (and he was right). I really liked the movie. It wasn’t terrifying like I thought it would be but was good for reasons I didn’t expect.
A Quiet Place has surprisingly conservative undertones. The structure of the family is traditional. By that I mean the mom is feminine and the father is masculine. The dad is the protector and the provider while the mother is the homemaker and the teacher. Very early in the film, the family loses their youngest son. They’re walking home in a line and suddenly the boy starts playing with a loud toy. Evelyn, who is closer than Lee turns around and starts crying. It’s Lee, who is farther away, who sprints as fast as he can towards his child supposedly to try to push him out-of-the-way so he can be killed by the monsters instead. Evelyn isn’t a bad parent for not running towards her child; perhaps she’s the smarter parent because there is nothing any of them can do except potentially get killed. But Lee is a man, and traditionally it’s men who run towards a fight.
Femininity is needed as well. Lee is obsessed with protecting his family and figuring out how to kill the monsters. It’s fun seeing all the clever ways they have set up their home in order to communicate, protect themselves, and survive. That being said, the man is stressed. You can’t really blame him for this but it’s Evelyn who calms him down. She pulls him away from his desk and they enjoy a tender romantic moment slow dancing while listening to music through headphones. Evelyn also calms her son down when he’s extremely nervous about going to get fish with his dad. Evelyn is the calm in the storm, even when she’s not calm. Women are generally the calming force in a family and that is certainly the case in A Quiet Place.
Speaking of bringing the son to fish, my brother and I argued about whether Lee bringing his son out to fish and leaving his daughter who wanted to go was a gender-based decision or not. I don’t think it was, but my brother does. Evelyn tells her son that Lee wants to teach him how to take care of her. At first look I would agree, this is a gender based decision. But the sister is deaf and has a history of not listening. The truth is, the daughter is a liability in more ways than one, so I see why you may not want to take her out on an excursion into monsterland. Lee does tap into his son’s masculine side later in the film when at first his son refuses to run across a field. Only when Lee tells him his mother needs his help does the boy’s attitude change, and it changes immediately.
Lee is short with the kids. He loves them but he’s all about survival while Evelyn brings warmth and meaning to the kids’ lives and her husband’s. You can tell a difference even in the way that they sign, Lee’s hands are harsh while Evelyn’s are somehow kinder. But you need both: without Lee they die, without Evelyn they want to die.
Children are sacred in this movie. Not only the born ones but the unborn. Evelyn is pregnant. You can see how in a movie all about staying as quiet as possible this could be a problem. First of all, why is she pregnant? Clearly these are smart people yet they didn’t use any condoms? They have access to condoms and in the timeframe they still wouldn’t’ve expired. This makes me think they chose to get pregnant as the bringing of new life is fundamental to their survival and humanity’s. This means they’ve decided life is still worth living and they have an obligation to contribute to the ongoing of mankind.
But maybe they got pregnant on accident. If there’s any situation in which an abortion would be ethical, it’s a world where everyone gets killed if a single sound is made. We see earlier in the movie that they have access to drugs in a nearby town. While a surgical abortion is out of the question there are certainly other ways to cause “miscarriages.” One might argue that an abortion or killing the child shortly after it’s born would be the ethical thing to do because a baby puts the whole family at risk. This seems to have never occurred to the family who set up an elaborate plan for Evelyn to give birth and take care of the baby.
Now it may seem like I’m making Evelyn’s character out to be a weak, simple woman. She isn’t. At the end of the movie she is the first and only person to actually take out one of the monsters and she does so when it’s inches away from killing all three of her children. Not only does she kill the monster, she had the calm to wait to shoot the perfect shot, knowing other monsters would be on them at the noise. The mother figure isn’t weak, just feminine, and it’s modern day feminists who conflate those two terms. The woman has a baby with no drugs while being chased by monsters. Ain’t nothing weak about that, but is there anything more feminine than giving birth? There’s nothing more important to her than protecting her children; she literally tells Lee this in the film.
Because the family operates in this traditional way, they are believable and because they are believable, you emotionally invest in them. This movie made me care about the survival of the family more than I usually do for any type of film but especially when you talk about the thriller genre.
Feminism (in its current form) is all fine and dandy in theory, but when surviving is the goal, it’s simply not sustainable and Krasinski clearly knows this based on the direction of the movie. To make a film where women are just as strong as men or men are comforting in the same way as women wouldn’t be telling the truth. A woman isn’t going to be able to race through the woods carrying a kid for as long or as fast as a man. A man isn’t going to have as much patience teaching young kids as a woman has. Of course these are generalizations, but they’re generalizations with statistical significance. To get away from that, like so many recent movies have, is to ignore the truth.
Even in a hellish world there is nothing more beautiful than life. Humans are wired to protect life under a certain dynamic. That dynamic is man and woman, mother and father, feminine and masculine. A Quiet Place hits that nail right on the head.