Sunday, July 21, 2024

Review: Oscar Winner Lupita Nyong’o Gives Tour de Force Performance in “A Quiet Place Day One”


The first two “A Quiet Place” movies were no slouches acting wise. Emily Blunt brought a real sense of fear to the assignment, Cillian Murphy was very engaging in part 2, and Millicent Simmonds had a spectacular debut as the deaf daughter.

But now comes the prequel, “A Quiet Place: Day One,” and it’s a whole different species of film. The aliens are still running around, looking gross and acting mean, killing people and overturning cars. If you make a noise, they will eviscerate you. None of that has changed.

In this standalone chapter, we get to see what happened to other people when the emergency was announced to the world. Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o’s Samira, dying of cancer, is in a group discussion at her hospice. Alex Wolff is the group leader, and it’s clear they have an itchy scratchy friendship. She doesn’t suffer fools, and even announces that she is mean. She also carries a fluffy white and black security cat with her — everywhere.

Wolff’s Reuben invites the group to see a marionette show in The City — meaning New York. Samira agrees as long as they can get some New York pizza while they’re in town. They get in the hospice school bus, and you know there will be trouble.

Krasinski shares screenplay credit with director Michael Sarnoski. They carry over the spirit of the first two but add new dimensions. Instead of a family bound by biology, this one is made of strangers. Samira is thrown together with Eric, a nattily dressed British law student more dependent on her than the cat. They are just randomly paired by the universe.

It comes as no surprise, but Nyongo’o gives a tour de force performance. She reminded me of Cicely Tyson, with that level of intensity and warmth. There isn’t much dialogue in these movies, so emotion is conveyed largely in facial expressions. The eyes are so important. On all fronts, Nyongo’o carries this 90 minute adventure heroically. An Oscar nomination is not that far-fetched.

The men in Samira’s life are strong presences. Wolff is a very Judd Hirschy guy, perfectly cast. Joseph Quinn, straight from “Stranger Things,” looks like he should be Robert Downey Jr’s son in some movie. He makes an impressive big screen debut. The great Djimon Honsou has a fleeting cameo — he’s the tie in to “A Quiet Place 2.” If they ever make the third movie in the Emily Blunt series, I hope he gets more screen time. Honsou is a two time Oscar nominee who should be working every minute. He’s terrific.

Michael Bay produced the film, and he was there last night at the screening and after party at Lincoln Restaurant. I’d never really met him before, but he’s funny and engaging which makes sense since he’s one of the most successful producers and directors of all time. I asked him what was next and he replied, “I could tell you but then I’d have to kill you.” So we’ll have to wait and see…

PS Paramount may be in corporate disarray, but they have hits! (See: “If.”) That’s all that matters.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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