Deception and betrayal drives the plot of this Mo Perkins release entitled A Quiet Little Marriage. It centers around Dax (Cy Carter) and Olive (Mary Elizabeth Ellis), an attractive young couple whose disagreements in their marriage about children, drive them to commit grim deceptions.
A Quiet Little Marriage is essentially a crazy sitcom, minus the comedy. In this production, Perkins creates an interesting couple, who outwardly seem to have a great marriage. In the film's progression however, it becomes evident that their relationship is built on a bed of quicksand. In the script, it is not clear how long the couple dated before tying the knot, but it is clear they failed to discuss their differences beforehand. In a bedroom scene between the couple, when Olive brings up the possibility of having children, Dax brushes off the subject claiming that they had already discussed and dismissed the idea on their first and second date. When Olive accepts this answer in defeat, it is at once suspicious and disconcerting. The fact that they could not have an open conversation to explore the issue foreshadows the mounting predicaments that lay ahead.
Told in a very provocative manner, this film relies less on narrative and more on stylish visual symbolism. The intimacy between Dax and Olive is the focal point, and all other details revolve around it. In many ways, this approach is really quite clever. The film gives power to the viewer, never fully disposing of its secrets, but rather sharing it in a way that expects a certain level of intuitiveness. Without being pretentious, it takes full advantage of the fact that most viewers understand context clues without dialogue.
While Dax and Olive proved to be compelling characters in their own right, the chemistry between them came across mostly contrived. Their chemistry was lazily deferred to the fact that they like to “rock the casbah”...a lot. The lack of any evident spark between the two made their actions seem more like a force of habit rather than intimacy originating from love. Despite this, their frustrations are communicated effectively on-screen, which is fortunate, because it is their frustrations that's the driving factor of this film.
The lack of sparks between the two main characters is by no means an admittance to poor acting. Rather, the performance from the entire cast was great. Given most of the actors in this film come from a comedy background, with Mary Elizabeth Ellis and Charlie Day (playing Adam) being fellow actor's on It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia [Editor's note: they're also married], Dax's brother (Jimmi Simpson) most recently adding Date Night to his comedic resume, and even Cy Carter coming from Starship Troopers fame, it's interesting how unfunny this film is. It's serious, it's smart and it's extremely grown-up. It's the kind of script that needs the sincerity of this unlikely bunch to work. And it does.
Not in this film's favor, however, was the abundance of predictability. Like its title, this film is quiet, but it lacked the actual fickleness of life and human nature. The events seemed laid out from the beginning, and as if waiting for some invisible checklist. The plot-line may appear different at first, but the story itself lacks originality. In many ways, it's the same narrative of marital disharmony recycled repetitively, but this time, it's a lot more understated. It's a formula that works for most films, but a bit more attention to the formulation of the events in this particular movie could have yielded a product that's a lot more innovative.
A Quiet Little Marriage could be described as a love story. It's as tender and doleful as a Kris Kristofferson tune, but it's also a film that lacks the originality it alludes to. Even so, it is an interesting picture that explores the advantage of visual storytelling and a consistently controversial topic without pretending to have a solution.
DVD Bonus Features
A Quiet Little Marriage bonus includes a trailer for the film, and a less than interesting 'making-of' feature.
"A Quiet Little Marriage" is on sale August 31, 2010 and is not rated. Drama. Directed by Mo Perkins. Written by Mo Perkins, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Cy Carter. Starring Charlie Day, Cy Carter, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Michael ONeill, Lucy DeVito.