' ' Cinema Romantico: This Shot in A Quiet Place

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

This Shot in A Quiet Place

If  yesterday we levied some critcisms at John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place”, none of which we are here to take back, we also espoused his ocassional painterly images, like the one you see up above. Indeed, the rural upstate New York setting, with colors that pop a lot more than this piddly screen shot might connote, is nothing if not pastoral, though do not confuse that for some Thomas Kinkade swallop. If Kransinski struggles to satisfactorily intertwine a familial metaphor with his horror-infused narrative, he paradoxically makes that familial metaphor look so easy with this single frame.

In the background, at the end of the path toward the cornfield and a bit difficult to pick out on account of, again, this screen shot’s lacking quality is the family’s daughter, Reagan. That she is so far away implies the distance Reagan, rightly or wrongly, very much has come to feel from her elders, though particularly her father. The father, naturally then, is headed in the opposite direction, on the far left hand side of the frame, his back turned, suggesting distance, and trudging uphill, a bit of symbolic topography. He is also on the same side of the frame as his son, a subliminal assertion of standard gender roles, though the son is the only one looking at Evelyn, the mother, as if not wanting to turn and follow his father. Her posture, however, with arms crossed suggests that he has to turn and follow anyway. And she, of course, is conspicuously placed at the source of these divergent sandy paths, each one leading back to her.

If you see this moment on screen, it is, as you might assume, filled out with more dramatic intent. But you see this frame apart from its action and you realize all the backstory contained within the scene has already been laid out visually, which suggests, as much as any of his admittedly solid exercises in suspense, a promising directorial future for Mr. Krasinski if he keeps thinking along the above lines.

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