A Quiet Place
As I mused over A Quiet Place in my usual way with films, I began to consider the way this story could be framed within the gender politics battle. After all, what good does the father really do in this film? Isn’t it the mother and daughter who discover and exploit the creatures’ weakness at the end while the son shelters his baby brother in the corner? Such arguments might be justified by the ending itself, except that they contradict the overall tone of the film. With its portrayal of a family under siege, A Quiet Place demonstrates how a traditional family structure builds attachment and a commitment to protecting one another.
Director John Krasinski creates a strong human story by blending themes from pioneers in history with this apocalypse film genre. The out-of-tune music box melody establishes a tie with old-time western films, and the family’s homestead dwelling evokes memories of man’s former struggle against nature. The characters each fill a traditional family role in this new, yet familiar world. We see the father maintain the infrastructure and workings of an unorthodox farm while the mother handles domestic affairs—gardening, laundry, preparing meals. And yet there is a sense of wholeness about the arrangement: the family gathers together for dinner and holds hands for the silent blessing, the children play board games in the evening, the husband and wife dance silently to music only they can hear.
The mother nurtures and educates in the more gentle subjects like arithmetic and poetry while the father takes his son out for a wilderness-like experience. He gives the son expression and works to cultivate self-reliance. Many find these concepts repulsive in our time, but again, there is a sense of wholeness about this arrangement. The mother encourages this journey away from home. She later places a demand on her husband: “You have to protect them!”
These roles don’t confine, but recede naturally into the background when attacks come. Fighting isn’t exclusively up to the male characters. Each person does what they have to in order to stay alive. What marks their struggle though, besides the uncanny ability to make mistakes at the right time to distract the creatures and save someone else unknowingly, is the fact that they all run back into danger. It makes no sense to go without some higher attachment.
What these characters seek most isn’t superiority of power or intellect, but love and a sense of belonging. For the parents, their identity rests on protecting their children. This family structure remains strong under pressure because there is a purpose, an intentional form in the everyday moments. The title A Quiet Place seems fitting not just for the role of sound within the plot, but for the relational picture and a way of existence that defies the hostile world outside.