banner image

:: The Town is Quiet

Confronting in its nature, powerful in its dialogue and dramatic in its storyline, Robert Guediguian presents The Town is Quiet. This unnerving arthouse film, set in France, is nothing short of an eye opener. With subtitles the entire 133 minutes, and scenes as graphic and lifelike as they come, the viewer finds it hard to tear an eye from the screen for a second.

The film is set in the quiet town of Marseilles and focuses on a handful of main characters - all with issues. The main character Michele paints the picture of a woman with despair and depression, yet with strength and determination. While working full time at a fish market, she supports her long unemployed husband, deals with her heroin-addicted daughter and looks after her daughter’s neglected baby. During the film, Michele deals with her daughter by seeking help from an ex-boyfriend Gerard, who has drug connections. Feeding her daughter’s drug habit becomes an option for her, when she realises there aren’t many choices in life left.

Throughout the movie, other unsettling, yet powerful characters are introduced - Paul, an ex-dockworker who meets Michele, falls in love with her and gives her money for sex. The money of course, she uses to buy smack for her daughter. Vivian, a lady who teaches music to kids with disabilities and suffers an unhappy marriage, has an affair with an ex-con North African who challenges prejudice at all costs.

Guediguian portrays all of his characters as lost and lonely, with futures that seem dark and bleak; he creates personal inner issues for each one. The movie deals with all aspects of life. Imagine every contemporary matter, every modern day issue that the world is faced with - sex, drugs, overdose, politics, murder, suicide, love, racism, betrayal - The Town is Quiet has it all. So real are the images and the characters, that one cannot help but feel affected - or disturbed.

In one scene, where Vivian is telling her husband that she wishes to leave him, he replies, “our whole life is contained in pre-written phrases…” This comment is symbolic of the movie in that the fate of each character appears unchangeable from the beginning; their lives will travel down the same road that they have come from.

Ariane Ascariade is outstanding in this film. Her character has a strength that is alien to most. The viewer watches Michele (Ariane Ascariade) inject her own daughter because she is shaking too much to do it herself. Step by step, a scared mother feeds her daughter drugs, because she loves her. This scene is horrifying and moving at the same time. Ariane Ascariade plays it all in the most believable, admirable and convincing way.

This movie has underlying issues as well, ones that are not quite so confronting. Globalisation, war, politics and lack of parenting love, are all things that contribute to the eventual demise and destruction of Guediguian’s characters. It is these subtler messages that make his movie so intriguing and unpredictable. The Town is Quiet, with its unexpected twists and turns, is certainly not light viewing and perhaps for many, is controversial. It must however, if nothing else, be seen for its amazing characters, outstanding acting and incredible dialogue.

DVD Extras

Interactive menus