“A Quiet Little Marriage” tells the story of married couple Dax (Carter) and Olive (Ellis). Dax is a school teacher, and Olive spends much of her time tending to her father (O’Neill), who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. Still, they seem to have a pretty normal marriage, until Olive gets it in her head that she’d like to have a baby. Dax doesn’t want children, however, concerned about both the dangerous world in which they live in and the fact that his family is, save himself, a bunch of f**k-ups (as his brother Jackson (Simpson) routinely exemplifies).
One evening Olive, in a fit of drunken impulse, decides to pop a hole in her diaphragm with the hopes of “accidentally” becoming pregnant. Which may’ve worked eventually, except that Dax finds a negative pregnancy test in the trash and then inspects the diaphragm. He then decides on a bit of birth treason himself, re-upping Olive’s old birth control prescription and slipping a pill a day in her morning coffee. And all seems fine, except for the fact that the pills are causing Olive’s mood to swing…
Now, I didn’t dislike “A Quiet Little Marriage.” While I wasn’t blown away by any of the performances, they weren’t bad. They just were… pleasant. This is a real “moment in a couple’s life” film, with the pacing to match. And it works to that degree (so much so, that I found myself upset at the final 10 minutes for taking a more cop-out dramatic detour than the film probably warranted). Still, their behavior makes you want to scream at the screen “talk to each other, dammit,” but it’s not like they’re the first couple to deal with conflict by avoiding it.
From dinner parties with friends drinking red wine and listening to bad music, to the quiet passive-aggressive nature each one takes to “protect” the other while simultaneously serving their own selfish needs… it’s appalling to me. And that’s nothing new; that’s reality. Now I’ve depressed myself.
“A Quiet Little Marriage” was a tough one to review for me, mainly because while I found it technically sound, realistically truthful, inoffensive to my senses and genuinely competent all around, it also wasn’t necessarily my cup of tea. Or, birth control-laced coffee, as the case may be.