1 star (out of four)
"The Quiet" is a movie of good intentions and awful results. The sophomore feature of well-regarded indie director Jamie Babbit ("But I'm a Cheerleader"), this nutty little domestic melodrama--about Dot (Camilla Belle), an orphaned, seemingly deaf high school pianist who gets adopted by a wildly dysfunctional suburban middle-class family--is sheer punishment to watch.
Told with a preachy straightforward quality that suggests a TV family problem movie, "Quiet" veers off from high school sex, basketball games and smutty conversations to incest, addiction and murder, little of which makes much sense. Meanwhile, everyone uses Dot as a sounding board for lewd fantasies, guilt-ridden confessions and sadistic tirades. Afterwards, she wanders off to the piano to play Beethoven--who deserves a better backdrop.
Soon, Dot's adoptive family is crumbling, including sullen, troubled cheerleader Nina (Elisha Cuthbert), Nina's overprotective and randy dad Paul (Martin Donovan) and her pill-fiend mom Olivia (Edie Falco). Also contributing to this sub-"American Beauty" farrago is sweet-faced Connor (Shawn Ashmore), who can't play basketball but likes to talk dirty, and yet another sex-crazed cheerleader, Michelle (Katy Mixon). Mixon gives "The Quiet's" only vaguely entertaining performance.
Things keep getting worse, both with the Deer family and with the movie. Despite her first-film success, Babbit should probably strenuously avoid any more deviant cheerleader films. So should scriptwriters Abdi Nazemian and Micah Shraft, who have penned two original ABC Family original movies and may be out of their depth. High school can be a pretty rotten time, but "The Quiet" is worse.
A Sony Pictures Classic release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:32.MPAA rating: R (for strong and disturbing sexual content, a scene of violence, language, drug content and brief nudity).Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times