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Case Number 19909: Small Claims Court

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A Quiet Little Marriage

MPI // 2008 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Bill Gibron (Retired) // October 14th, 2010

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All Rise...

Judge Bill Gibron wishes this fictional marital strife wasn't so "quiet."

The Charge

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes Dax and Olive with a ba…WHOOOA! Hold up there one moment. Not soooooo fast…

The Case

Dax (Cy Carter, Searchers 2.0) is hitched to his honey Olive (Mary Elizabeth Ellis, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and together they live a relatively normal upwardly mobile proto-professionals' life. Sure, she has to deal with an abusive and senile father dying in a nursing home. He has a brother whose affinity for alcohol and drugs is causing more than a little sibling concern. Still, the duo get along famously—that is, until Olive's biological clock starts ticking very loudly. She wants a kid ASAP and it's up to Dax to remind her of his previous "no children ever" commitment clause (something about a world so crappy no kid should suffer within it, etc., etc.). Thus begins a desperate downward spiral which will see two supposedly smart people do increasingly dumb and damaging things to each other to secure their side of the situation. From one supposedly Quiet Little Marriage comes one huge emotional upheaval.

Locked within the standard "love it or loathe it" dichotomy usually surrounding outsider indie films, A Quiet Little Marriage is either the most realistic depiction of martial issues ever, or a whiny waste of time. It often treads the tenuous waters of realism with expert ease, but also bathes its authenticity in an air of cinematic falseness that forces one to reconsider their overall response. Just because the cast mumble like regular people doesn't mean their actions reflect those of the masses. In the end it's a question of fine performances vs. contrived plot points. If you like the work of the capable cast, you'll stick with this slow paced and plodding production. If you just don't buy the proposed biological sabotage (the best part of waking up is birth control pill mickeys in your cup?) and additional ancillary psychological landmines (Alzheimers? Addiction?), everything here will be a big fat non-Greek struggle.

It's hard to really sympathize with these one-step-away-from-recreating-Ordinary People personalities. Both parties to the predicament are fairly unlikeable. The he/she dynamic is dead—instead, these are proto-futuristic figures who treat every issue like a combination of Sudoku puzzle and DVR programming problem. Instead of actually feeling anything, this couple incessantly yaks—and last time anyone checked, the 'talking cure' has a relatively low and relatively unproven recovery rate. Having a child IS a major issue for people who wear their concerns on their sleeves like Silly Bandz, but the lack of genuine understanding on both sides stagnates the drama. Instead of getting to the heart of the matter, A Quiet Little Marriage skirts it like a teen avoiding an accusatory parent.

Even more perplexing is the deception our marrieds turn to in order to promote their cause. Dax and Olive may seem normal on the outside, but they turn into reproduction James Bonds at the drop of a diaphragm. Hey—here's a good way to not have a kid: STOP HAVING SEX! That would be far more realistic than spiking your spouse's coffee with oral contraceptives. At least then we'd have a reason for all the confrontations. Avoiding intimacy would take A Quiet Little Marriage in a direction that would truly divide a viewer, asking them to champion such a choice. Instead, director Mo Perkins wants to play nice. True, the whole womb raiding ridiculousness could be resolved with a trip to a therapist (or a Hoarders marathon on A&E) but this is an earnest, eavesdropping descent into marital madness. No interlopers—including logic minded audiences—need apply.

IFC Films does a decent job with a movie obviously made on the fly and equally on the cheap. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen image does have some flaws (slightly misshapen, as if tweaked to make a theatrical aspect ratio) but, in general, the transfer is just fine. The colors are crisp and there is a nice level of detail.

On the sound side of things, the Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround mix is immersive in name only. The back channels get very little workout and the overall aural attribute sticks rather closely to a front and center dynamic. At least the musical score benefits from a wider range.

As for added content, there is a commentary featuring Perkins, Carter, and Ellis—and it's a chore. Obviously enamored of what's on the screen, they spend more time watching the movie than talking about it. The 'Making-of' featurette offers some interesting backstage insights, and the trailer is tolerable. All in all, the tech specs match the film they foster—decent, but not wholly definitive.

In a world where the intimate details of everyone's lives are broadcast over social networks as a crackpot combination of entitlement, friendship, and misguided curiosity; the minor revelations of A Quiet Little Marriage are mild mannered to say the least. One imagines real marrieds mocking this supposedly eye-opening look at interpersonal strife. Many will suggest it be 'mouth-shutting' as well.

The Verdict

Only slightly guilty—coming from a critic with 25 years of wedded "bliss" under his belt.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 78

Perp Profile

Studio: MPI
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• English (SDH)
• Spanish
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Drama
• Independent

Distinguishing Marks

• Commentary
• Featurette
• Trailer


• IMDb

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