“A Quiet Place” is an unexpectedly rich film about a society that is run on silence. Why? Monsters that are blind but react to sound by destroying the source of that sound have taken over. There is no real story or plot, only the day-to-day increasing menace to one particular family and how they survive. Real-life husband and wife John Krasinski and Emily Blunt play a married couple with a deaf older daughter (Millicent Simmons) and a hearing young son (Noah Jupe); because the family has gotten used to communicating via sign language, the adjustment to utter silence was not as difficult as it must have been to other families. Where are the other families? We don’t know. As far as this family can tell, there is no one else still living. So they get through each moment, surviving as best they can. But they are human, and a little boy wants to play with a toy rocket. And a woman is pregnant—how will she deliver this child and how can they keep an infant from crying?
“A Quiet Place” could be placed in the horror genre, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a love story, a rich tapestry of family life, parents fiercely protective of their children while making sure they can fend for themselves should they have to. All the performances are first-rate, but it’s Blunt who breaks your heart. Terrified yet determined, she will get her children through this, no matter what. The scenes of her experiencing contractions prior to giving birth are almost too painful to watch. The direction by Krasinski (also one of the writers) is flawless, the pacing perfect, camerawork smooth. The soundtrack, where the click of every small insect, each drop of water, a creaking staircase, becomes magnified against the stultifying stillness. It’s a film you need to give yourself over to, and it’s best to suspend logic, as not everything is laid out for us. Be prepared for some heart-stopping moments and some tears. “A Quiet Place” deserves both.
If you are a mystery buff, as I am, I recommend three English-speaking mysteries, each performed with distinctly different accents, streaming now on TV. The first is season number four of “Bosch” on Amazon Prime. Adapted from Michael Connelly’s detective novels, we start out this season just where the last one left off: Bosch (Titus Welliver) has been tasked by the city’s chief of police to undertake a top-secret investigation into a city official. In the meantime, a prominent lawyer who has successfully sued the police time and time again is murdered and all signs point to it being an execution by cops. The usual characters are back: the quirky detective squad, Harry’s ex-FBI ex-wife and his daughter. Also, wonderful location shots of LA landmarks: the Bradbury Building, Angel’s Flight on Bunker Hill, alongside the LA River. The first three episodes were crisply done, involving and intriguing. I’ll be back for more.
Scottish English is spoken in “Shetland” (Netflix), an unexpected little treasure about the police force on this storied island north of Scotland’s mainland. Based on mystery novels by Ann Cleeves, DI Jimmy Perez (Douglas Henshall, sturdy and attractive) investigates murders in a close-knit community that harbors family secrets going back generations. The island is isolated, its landscape mysterious and often inhospitable. I recommend turning on closed captioning to help with the very thick—and, of course, charming—accents.
Lastly, we have the Queen’s English in “Collateral,” a four-part murder mystery written by famed playwright David Hare and starring Carey Mulligan as a newly promoted detective, determined to solve her first big case. A pizza deliveryman is murdered, setting up an intricate storyline that crosses all strata of British society. It’s a good one to cozy up with, and its four parts is just long enough.