[Warning: this review contains possibly-unwanted information about the contents of Collin’s nostrils and my uterus. And also pretty much spoils the entire movie. But you don’t care, do you? You’ve never even heard of this movie, unless you stalk the body of work of peripheral characters from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia the way the HitchDieds do.]
A few hours before watching this movie, Collin and I had the following conversation:
Robin: Collin, you have a booger hanging out of your nose.
Collin: Pull it out for me.
Robin: I don’t think our relationship is at that level yet.
Collin: How can you say that? We’re engaged. When we get married, you’ll own half my boogers.
Robin: That’s not how that works.
Collin: Just do this. Take this step with me, for the sake of the relationship.
Robin: I want you to remember this conversation when I go baby-crazy and you are not ready for kids yet.
Collin: When that happens, you can just secretly have your IUD removed.
If we were characters in A Quiet Little Marriage, that last bit of the conversation wouldn’t have been facetious. Wait. If we were characters in A Quiet Little Marriage, that entire conversation never would have happened. Because the “Quiet” part of the title is very literal. This is a movie about a married couple who do whatever it takes to avoid direct communication.
Olive (Mary Elizabeth Ellis, the Waitress from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) wants a baby. Her husband Dax does not. Because he had a dysfunctional family, and because he heard something on NPR about how terrible life in Darfur is. He doesn’t find “we don’t live in Darfur” a compelling argument. He says, “I thought we already talked about this.” “This” being, whether or not to have children, ever. “Already” refers to their first date.
Hoo boy. You can’t bind someone for the duration of a marriage to what they say on a first date! First dates are breeding grounds for little white lies and where exaggerations build their nests. Everyone getting married should talk, seriously, post the first-date universe of lies and half-truths, about plans for child rearing.
Instead of belatedly talking out the baby issue, Olive and Dax decide to take their broken-down communication and smash it with sledgehammers. IN SECRET, of course! Olive pokes a hole in her diaphragm (has anyone used a diaphragm for birth control, rather than as a plot device, post-1981?). Dax discovers a used (negative) pregnancy test and surreptitiously refills Olive’s old prescription for birth control pills. He grinds them up and adds them to her morning coffee, with plenty of sugar to mask that horse-piss taste. Olive, if only you drank your coffee black you could avoid being drugged!
This goes on for four months. Then Olive starts to think that, negative pregnancy tests be damned, she MUST be pregnant. She’s crying for no reason! Her boobs are bigger! She sees her gyno, and the jig is up.
How does she respond? With a conversation? No! She puts every single pill in the house into a fruit smoothie and leaves it on the kitchen counter. (Incidentally, this is the first movie I’ve seen where Chekov’s Gun applied to smoothies. Hopefully not the last). When Dax returns from a long run, does he ask, “Honey, can I drink this smoothie?” No! That would be communication! He just drinks the whole thing. He doesn’t die, which is too bad, because it would have immediately gone into my top five movie deaths of all time.
Unlike all the other movies I watch where the characters act like dolts, A Quiet Little Marriage doesn’t celebrate this lunacy, which is the film’s saving grace. But ultimately I felt like they got off the hook, a bit. The smoothie is non-fatal. Someone conveniently dies so they can have a bereavement-facilitated reconciliation. They come to terms on the baby thing and are immediately granted a baby from a forgotten sub-plot involving one of the McPoyles and Lucy DeVito.
I think I am making this movie sound worse than it really is. I would totally watch the sequel, A Quiet Little Guardianship, in which they raise the baby that fell into their laps in a similarly tight-lipped style. In Kindergarten, the poor little guy would ask his parents where babies come from. Dax would say, “We already talked about this. When you were eight months old.” Olive would scream, “THE MOON!” and then run into the kitchen and weep. In second grade, he’d ask for help with his spelling homework, and Olive would answer in semaphore. Kid would ask Daddy what Mommy is doing, Dax would sigh deeply and then hand him a steaming plate of lasagna made with pages from the dictionary instead of noodles. In seventh grade, the now-moody teen would accuse Olive and Dax of not being his real parents, and Dax would remind him that in Darfur children are forced to eat their real parents. And Olive would hand him a suspicious-looking smoothie.