Barely for the first time, Blumhouse has his name on a horror melodrama fueled by a strong pulse of politically topical blood coursing through his veins, this time with the tongue-in-cheek title Soft and quiet. In fact, Beth de Araújo’s feature debut is far more notable for its haunting political outrage than for its dramatic credibility, which becomes harder and harder to swallow as the thread unfolds. But virtuous young and left-leaning audiences will appreciate being hyped up by the increasingly outrageous behavior of a group of aggrieved and furious right-wing women whose idea of taking matters into their own hands goes more than a little too far. .
Had it not been for the initial ideological issues propelling the action here, the writer-director’s arc would certainly have been most noted for her decision to deliver the 91-minute film in one take, even if that feat has now been accomplished. in at least 40 previous films, admittedly very little commercial.
Nonetheless, the driving force behind this almost all-female enterprise – both behind and in front of the camera – is political outrage, particularly that sparked in liberal-leftist circles by the retrograde perception, take the law into your own-attitudes. from the hands of many on the far right. The particular actions taken by the film’s most aggressive women are so unmotivated, outlandish, and extreme that they seem downright ridiculous. But in this era, one can be forgiven for imagining that anything is possible, so most viewers probably won’t mind the wacky, reckless behavior displayed.
In a beautiful, leafy area that resembles the Pacific Northwest, well-groomed, blonde kindergarten teacher Emily (Stefanie Estes) prepares to welcome a small gathering of local women who, along with the cakes and pies, etc., at first glance looks like a typical reunion of teachers’ mothers. But the pie decorated with a swastika raises eyebrows, as does the Daughters for Aryan Unity sign, so it takes no more than a minute or two for this seemingly benign female social gathering to turn into a modern bund meeting.
“Multiculturalism doesn’t work,” moans a woman, and a stream of curdled complaints ensues about “Jewish banks,” immigrants, gays, and the like. What starts out as a nice tea party turns into a contest to see who can be the most racist and the most insulting, a transformation that is both surprising and, in the speed with which women expose their horrible prejudices, more than a bit above.
But that’s nothing compared to what follows. Greta Zozula’s handheld camera follows the six women as they make their way to a convenience store, where two of them get into a pointless argument with two Asian employees, whom they insult, fight and, in a short time, regroup up and up to a distant house. When she arrives, things spiral wildly out of control, to the point that even Emily’s strong and more clear-headed husband (Jon Beavers) can’t do anything about it.
While there is clearly a cultural divide between the more cultured women, embodied by Emily, and the impulsive thugs who act now/think later, the violent emotions and deep-seated prejudices rule out any possibility of moderation or civility. The physical handling of the kidnapping and the disastrous events that followed is superficial to the point of being careless, and it may be that the pressure to pull off a convincing kidnapping and disastrous consequences in the one-shot format was just too much. to be staged convincingly. Sacrificing dramatic clarity and visceral intensity for one-take bragging rights seems like bad business in this case. Who would care if there were a few modifications?
Still, the very palpable residue of post-Trump social instability and political malaise is felt at every turn. Soft and quiet is part drama and part dire alarm about the social and political fissures that continue to smash locally and internationally. This film’s treatment of issues is erratic, highly extremist, and far from entirely consistent, but the turbulent and troubled impulses behind it are easy to discern.