John Krasinski is in the hearts of many as likeable but snarky Jim Halpert from “The Office.” He’s playing Jack Ryan in the Amazon TV series starting this summer. He’s tried directing– I really like “The Hollars” with Margo Martindale- but hasn’t broken through in movies yet. But now Krasinski– who’s married to actress Emily Blunt– has thrown us a curve ball. He’s re-written, directed and stars in a little masterpiece called “A Quiet Place” opening on Friday.
This is a tour de force. His friends must know because they turned out in droves last night for the New York premiere. Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively walked the red carpet, then went to dinner with Krasinski and Blunt while we watched the 85 minute slice of perfection at AMC Lincoln Square. Justin Theroux stayed for the screening. So did Doug Liman, director of “Edge of Tomorrow” and “Made in America.”
The after party was over at Lincoln Restaurant, where Peggy Siegal holds her Oscar Q&A’s in the winter. Classy. Stanley Tucci was there because he co-starred with Emily in “The DEvil Wears Prada” and also he married her sister, Felicity. They’re expecting their second child but sat through the movie. Felicity said, “I know it was pretty brave.” They all loved it.
“A Quiet Place” has a 100 on Rotten Tomatoes, 47 positive reviews. The number will drop. Someone will be the spoiler. But there’s nothing not to like. “A Quiet Place” is one of those rare gems, masterwork that I think movie buffs will study. It’s an ode to Hitchcock, but it’s also totally original.
It’s not just luck. Krasinski has been working toward this writing screenplays (“The Promised Land”) and directing a character driven family story that pre-figures “This is Us” (“The Hollars”). Like Jim, Krasinski was not not going to stick around the office selling paper. He had bigger things up his sleeve.
“A Quiet Place” doesn’t look like it came cheap. Krasinski used the best crayons in the box. All the below line stuff– cinematography, editing, production design, lighting– is top notch. Marco Beltrami wrote what should be an Oscar nominated score, which is most important since the music is a character. You see, there is barely any dialogue in this film. It’s basically a silent movie. A very noisy one. There’s an alien–Krasinski told me he designed it with ILM– that looks like several million bucks. It is very scary.
The story (based on a screenplay by Bryan Woods and Scott Beck) We meet a family on the run in the woods. We’re told they’re 89 days into something –some kind of alien invasion has wiped out their town and almost everyone in the world, we glean from headlines. These aliens use sound to kill their victims. So the family– unnamed but according to the credits their name is Abbott– must be silent. Any noise will bring their deaths. There’s a mother (Blunt), father (Krasinski), and three children. The daughter is deaf (Millicent Simmonds from “Wonderstruck,” outstanding) so think about that turn in the story– the aliens are hunting for sound, she hears no sound. There’s a reason for all this, I won’t give it away.
The plot: they want to survive. They’ve made it this far. Then something happens. We jump ahead a year. The mother is nine months pregnant. They’ve found asylum on an abandoned upstate NY farm. But the aliens are not far away.
But can you imagine being silent this whole time? Not a word. One false move and your life could be over. Krasinski instills that in us from the opening– I’ve never seen an audience stiffen up so quickly. Right away, you see the filmmakers are not playing games. The audience last night was itself silent for longer than I can remember in any movie. You could hear people breathing. Or chewing pop corn.
“A Quiet Place” is a horror film the way “Psycho” or “The Birds” is– it’s transcendent. It’s about family and loyalty as much as it’s running from the specter of death, and having some hope you’ll make it out alive. The family, that is. Not the audience.