Film Corner: The Silence & A Quiet Place

The Silence & A Quiet Place

[Previously on Twitter!] Dear Hollywood: Please stop casting hearing actors as Deaf characters. It takes me out of the movie so quickly when the Deaf character so clearly isn't, and it's almost always really easy to tell, so miss me with the whole "ANYBODY CAN ACT ANY PART" because that's not working.

We're watching The Silence on Netflix even though it has a hearing actress as a Deaf character AND the plot is bonkers-bread, because we thought it could at least be good ASL practice for me. IT IS NOT. Kissmate had to leave the room when they signed "sweetheart" (the endearment) as "sugary chest-muscle". Not the same thing! Not the same signs! It looks like they googled the sign for "sweet" and the sign for "heart" and stuck them together without realizing that "sweetheart" has its own unique sign.

Oh my god this movie is so bad? They've encountered the attracted-to-sound monsters (they look like little pink dragons) and they're sitting in their silent car trying to figure out what to do and they KEEP TALKING when they could be signing! They all supposedly know ASL!!

Setting: Monsters attracted to sound are killing everyone on earth.

Characters: Wholesome multi-generational family who all know ASL.


Why not just have them all sign and subtitle the signing the way you would subtitle any foreign language? Why are they talking out loud? Oh thank god, they finally did that: Stanley Tucci signed a sentence and they subtitled it. Thank you, Fictional Dad. (The fact that it took them THIS LONG to think of that is just!!) They're....they're randomly alternating between signing (good, quiet) and talking (bad, deadly) and it's....why would you do this thing, my friends. Why.

Dad (signing): "Listen. They can't see, only hear."

Daughter: (spoken) "Dad." (signing) "I know how to live in silence."

No? Honey? You don't? Like, Deaf reviewers have pointed out that Deaf people don't know how much sound they're making, because they can't hear it. It feels like they wanted her hearing-loss trauma to be, like, a special super ability and it is making me Uncomfortable. Several of you are telling me that The Quiet Place does this better and so I guess I need to watch that. (I had previously avoided it because of Pregnancy Trauma, but I can deal.)

They- They clearly wrote the words first and then tried to do literal sign-for-word translation. Instead of writing the sign language first and subtitling it with an appropriate spoken English translation. So, like, he just said "I know you may hate me for a long time" and did the sign for "long" and the sign for "time", but you wouldn't combine them like that. They did "time" as in a watch-time, not timeline-time. Kissmate says the signage here would be more natural to say something like "I KNOW YOU NOT-LIKE ME FUTURE" than to do the tapping-wrist sign for wristwatch time.

Mom and Gma are talking rather than signing, because... I don't know why, lolsob. There's some intrigue with grandma being on the verge of death due to mysterious cigarettes and an (asthma?) inhaler. They're very coy and unclear about it all. The family finds a house in the middle of nowhere that they hope to use to take shelter. The owner gets herself killed by dragon-bats so, hey, free house for our protagonists. They're still alternating signs and whispers. Mom nearly gets herself killed by dragon-bats, so Dad turns on a nearby woodchipper and the dragons fly accommodatingly into the chipper. What a convenient coincidence!

This is an extremely nice house they just inherited through contrived coincidence! Mom's wound looks bad. Gma announces that she needs antibiotics. I am wondering how you know it's bacterial and not, like, a toxin or venom or poison or whatever. Now they are signing WHILE talking even though the Deaf girl isn't in the same room, and there are bats outside, and I JUST.

Dad and Daughter have walked into a nearby town (how did they know where to go?) looking for antibiotics. A menacing man stands on a roof and stares at them. Surely he has better priorities than two drifters. OH MY GOD THE DRAGONS LAY EGGS IN PEOPLE'S TUMMIES. EW EW EW. The menacing man meets them outside and asks them to join his flock, "The Hushed". Daughter signs "he's weird" and I'm like...honey, he might be able to read that, you know.

Instead of wisely being like "yes, absolutely, we just need to drop off these meds first and then we'll come back to hear your sales pitch", Dad and Daughter blow him off so presumably he's going to swear vengeance and haunt them for the rest of the movie. Nobody in movies has any goddamn sense for how to manage an apocalypse except maybe Kurt Russell in THE THING.

Reverend Creepy has come to the house with 6 adults, so instead of inviting them inside (where they can surround and contain them) Dad goes outside all by his lonesome. I assume Dad will soon die. Cult Leader pressures Dad to "join us" and then adds "the girl is fertile". Kissmate is screaming. Dad walks back into the house. Me, I'd lie my ass off and be like "naw, her uterus was removed after a car crash" because fuck THAT. Dad comes back out with a shotgun that he can't use because, you know, there's dragon-bats. The cult silently mocks him and walk off into the evening.

Weird detail: The cult cuts peoples' tongues out, but... you can still make noise? So you're running the risk of infection or bleeding out, AND making it harder to eat, for NO benefit in terms of increased silence. At night during a thunderstorm, a little girl with a missing tongue (see: cult) shows up on their doorstep. Everyone tends to her while Daughter sleeps alone in her room. The girl has been booby-trapped with dozens of phones which start ringing. Meanwhile, a phone has been taped to Daughter's window. Chaos ensues and many phones meet an untimely end in a bucket of water.

If they care so much about fertile girls, why send a girl as the suicide-phone-vest victim? You'd think they'd send a little boy. Or a moderately large cat. I don't know. Whatever. Daughter gets kidnapped by cultists. Gma runs after them, manhandles the cultists to the ground, and screams to call the dragons to her. It's a very touching sacrifice, ruined by Daughter being re-kidnapped two seconds later. Violence ensues. The family stabs the cultists to death. Now they walk north because the dragons can't handle cold. Daughter's boyfriend texts her. She smiles.

Daughter voice-overs that "we know the vesps don't like the cold. But will they evolve and adapt as I did?" I- You- No. No. That was bad and it should feel bad. I won't watch A Quiet Place tonight, but I will soon, ok? It's sadly hilarious to me that after an ENTIRE THREAD about a movie being bad because the signing is balls and the Deaf character is clearly hearing, randos are still replying to me that "it's called ACTING! anyone can play ANY PART!" Clearly hearing actors cannot *act* Deaf, that's the problem!

Ok, I promised you all that I would watch A Quiet Place since it has a similar plot to The Silence but has an actual Deaf actress and not just hearing people pretending badly. Yes! Right off the bat, the first communication in the movie is ASL signed and subtitled. Correctly! Very pleased! Minor criticism so far: a lot of the camera work is close up on the faces so half the signs are lost, and therefore hard to follow. But they seem right? Righter than The Silence.

OH HOLY SHIT. WHAT THE FUCK. OH MY GOD. That monster was WAY CREEPIER than the little pink dragon-bats!!

Wow, they're really doing an amazing job establishing a family that DOES NOT TALK. Amazing.

Okay, um. I do feel a little like they're interweaving the tragedy of the apocalypse (real, valid) with the "tragedy" of the family not being able to talk to each other anymore, and I don't like that? I want MORE signs, if that makes sense, and less tragic silence. They... they aren't communicating a lot and I realize that some of that stems from the massive tragedy they've endured both in the general apocalyptic sense and in the personal sense, but it feels like *some* of that failure to communicate is because they tragically Cannot Talk, and I don't really like that. It makes me think of movies where disabled people hate their wheelchair because it's "constricting" when in real life most disabled people like our mobility aids because they let us *move*.

I guess another way to say what I'm saying is... The Silence had bad ASL (very very very bad) but they at least signed sentences. The people here, so far, are more...meaningful looks, nods, a word or two. Not full sentences or conversations like I'd expect. Hell, *I* use more ASL than they do, and I'm just learning. I love being able to use signs to communicate what I want when my stutter is acting up or we're in a situation where we can't talk. It feels *freeing*, not constricting, to be able to communicate your thoughts in more ways than one! Maybe the issue is just that this is occurring against a tragic apocalyptic backdrop. Maybe I need this in a romcom format.

Ok, they're signing a little bit more now, so I like that!

Madam, your water broke FIVE MINUTES AGO and now you have a baby, please explain.

Okay, see, The Silence had terrible ASL but it had some good ideas? They introduced the concept of "phone bomb" so now we're very curious why these folks haven't tried that. Set up a phone to go off, attract the monsters, and snipe them from a nest. Or dynamite. Or gasoline fire. We have IDEAS. This movie seems to be more about living with / coexisting alongside the monsters, and it feels a little like the humans accepted that and gave up a bit too quickly. ALSO, MAYBE CLOSE YOUR FUCKING FRONT DOOR SO THEY DON'T CRAWL INSIDE.

No, but all you needed to do was hold still and stay quiet!! How is that so hard!!

Ok, the ending was very boss, though.

Very good signing, extremely glad they had multiple ASL experts assisting, very pleased with the Deaf actress who was wonderful. Not sure what else to say so I'll just sign (ha!) off here.


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