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Elisha Cuthbert Incest Movie- “Bad Taste”

From The Boston Globe: “The Quiet” is in such bad taste that it’s a shame the thriller doesn’t make a better bad movie.

Rarely does Jamie Babbit’s film rise to the talents of its cast (OK, just the talents of Edie Falco , but still), or stoop to the level of the trashy secrets on display. Any plot featuring a father who can’t stay out of his cheerleader daughter’s bed deserves to be done with utter seriousness — or the absolute lack of it. “The Quiet” has a devil of a time determining which extreme it prefers.

It’s too busy being ponderous to do much winking. But it isn’t the incest story that weighs the movie down. It’s Dot (Camilla Belle ), the deaf-mute who has recently moved into the Deers’ Connecticut household after the death of her father. Mrs. Deer (Falco ) is a drugged- up depressive. Mr. Deer ( Martin Donovan ) is an ineffectual creep. And obnoxious Nina (lad-mag mainstay Elisha Cuthbert) is the family’s bad girl. But as Dot discovers one night, Nina is saving herself for one man, and he’s married to her mom.

Nina is a seductress, even if she’s only teasing. Rarely glimpsed in an outfit other than her cheerleading uniform, she frequently leans into Dot’s face, as though she’d enjoy giving her more than whispered insults, pharmaceutical drugs, and makeover advice. (It’s that kind of movie.)

At school, Nina harasses Dot some more, and jockeys, along with her lascivious buddy Michelle (Katy Mixon ), for the attention of the varsity basketball stud (Shawn Ashmore , Iceman from “X-Men”). But naturally he prefers Dot, silence being a great big turn-on.

But Dot can speak — or at least narrate. Half of “The Quiet” consists of her random thoughts. Twice she compares herself to Beethoven, and, once, she tries her hand at philosophical disgust: “One day we wake up and realize the world sucks , and we suck for being in it.”

Belle, with her dark, boyishly cut hair, is certainly a beauty — and an androgynous one at that. But on screen she’s hollow. The film is already visually dead, and it dies a little more whenever she’s alone in a scene, which is often.

“The Quiet” is actually a mess of tones. The incest business goes from cheeky and kinky to rote Lifetime payback stuff; nice try attempting to make Nina sympathetically vengeful and psychologically interesting at the last minute. Part of the problem might have something to do with Babbit’s confusion about how to treat the soft-core fantasies lurking in Abdi Nazemian and Micah Schraft’s script. Rather than throw it into the fireplace, she dares to make a half-earnest movie.

Babbit’s last film was 1999’s mostly funny gay de programming comedy “But I’m a Cheerleader.” It was a promising debut. Since then, she’s put in a lot of television time: a “Gilmore Girls” here, a “Nip/Tuck” there. Those are two radically different shows that look at women in different ways. One show likes women, the other does not (although to the credit of “Nip/Tuck,” that show doesn’t appear to like anyone).

“The Quiet” lands somewhere in between. It’s too confused to provide any thrills, even indecent ones.

From The Washington Post: The subject of bullying has been getting a lot of screen time this back-to-school season (see “How to Eat Fried Worms” or “The Ant Bully”). But none of these mine the dark realities of the subject in quite the same way as Jamie Babbit’s new drama, “The Quiet.” These girls’ lives are cutthroat — literally.

After her father dies, Dot (Camilla Belle), a deaf and mute teenager, moves in with her godparents, Paul and Olivia Deer (Martin Donovan and Edie Falco), and their daughter, Nina (Elisha Cuthbert). At her new high school, Dot is ridiculed by Nina and her cheerleader friends, while at home she discovers a host of startling secrets within a perfect-seeming family, from Olivia’s drug addiction to Paul’s sexual abuse of Nina. Nina winds up forging an alliance with Dot, bringing more secrets to light and ending Paul’s abuse in a gruesome way. Babbit, whose directorial credits include the 1999 comedy “But I’m a Cheerleader” and numerous episodes of TV’s “Gilmore Girls,” says that when she first saw the script, by Abdi Nazemian and Micah Schraft, she found “it explored things I was interested in. I was reading a book about sexual abuse at the time.” When she sent the script to Cuthbert, the actress was determined to play Dot.

“I started reading it and I realized, what a great contrast to what I had been doing,” Cuthbert says. “But Jamie asked me to consider Nina. I actually got more interested in Nina the second time I read it. Nina was the key to everyone’s evolution.”

Still, the 23-year-old Cuthbert is playing a character roughly the same age as her character on the TV thriller “24,” where she plays the daughter of federal agent Jack Bauer, played by Kiefer Sutherland. In “The Quiet,” too, her defining role is as a daughter. “I definitely feel like this is the last time I can play 17,” she says.

On the other hand, 17 is an age the thirty-something Babbit keeps returning to. She says she’s drawn to stories about teenagers because “it’s all about power, the power dynamic between girls that age.”

As for the bullying, Babbit explains, “She [Nina] has so much anger in her life.” The audience sees the source of that anger in Nina, but it’s not clear why her best friend, Michelle (Katy Mixon), is also cruel to Dot. Babbit’s explanation: “I think Michelle’s problem is she’s a lesbian, and she’s in love with Nina. I don’t know if she’ll ever have the strength to come out to herself.”

That would make Michelle the second gay cheerleader in Babbit’s oeuvre ; Natasha Lyonne played a lesbian sent to “sexual redirection” camp in “But I’m a Cheerleader.” What is it about cheerleaders? They are, the director says, the “archetype of a girl, what all high school girls are told to be like. I’m deconstructing that paradigm.” As “The Quiet” shows, the lives of cheerleaders like Nina and Michelle, are more complicated than they appear.

With her film being released at the start of the school year, Babbit hopes its messages — that people aren’t always what they seem, that bullies harbor their own secrets — will strike a chord in a season that celebrates fresh starts. She also wants the movie to comfort those silently enduring sexual abuse: “For families who are suffering from abuse, there’s hope.”

And if all else fails, Babbit jokes, “anything can be solved through murder.”


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