Identity in "A Quiet Place"
*If you have not yet seen the movie A Quiet Place and you intend to, you may not want to read the following post. It contains spoilers.
This past weekend, I was able to see the movie, A Quiet Place. The apocalyptic thriller genre is one that I am quite fond of. Movies like I Am Legend and The Road certainly lend opportunities for reflection on what life would really be like in that situation. A Quiet Place is no different, but not only that, I think there are many themes that provide essential insights into beloved sonship and sacrifice.
The backdrop for the movie is a post-apocalyptic world. We open up to a family scavenging a drug store. What’s immediately notable is the lack of speech, hurried movements, and an erie quiet. Curiously, the family is also communicating through sign language. As the film progresses, we find the reason for silence: there are blind monsters with super-powered hearing, capable of detecting sounds louder than whispered speech from miles away. These vicious beasts devour their prey with severe precision and lethal force - a scene we unfortunately witness at the beginning of the film.
Leaving the store, the youngest child in this family picks up a toy rocket ship, something the father (played by John Krasinkski) immediately snatches up and removes the batteries from. The father wants the toy left behind, but the oldest child (played by Millicent Simmonds), warmly returns the toy to her brother. The scene ends with the boy snatching the batteries back up. It’s important to note that the daughter actually suffers from deafness, even in this silent world, she is unable to hear. We can assume that she would not understand the potential noise (and thus danger) that such a toy could make.
As the family crosses over a bridge, we suddenly hear the toy rocket ship come to life. The father sprints toward the son, knowing that the monster is surely closing in. The scene cuts out as a streak of black flashes across the screen.
This scene sets up the issue and theme of identity that shapes the plot for the remainder of the film. The movie flashes forward almost a year in the future, and we see the family on a farm, with an intricate shelter in place, and most shockingly, the mother is pregnant. Following from the loss of the youngest child at the beginning of the film, there appears to be a tension on the part of the surviving children. This is most apparent on the part of the daughter, who very apparently feels remorse and partly responsible for her brother’s death. She doesn’t “feel” her father’s love because she thinks that he blames her. I can imagine that she feels embarrassed and inadequate because she was unable to hear the sounds of the rocket ship, even if she wanted to. This causes her to run from home after her father chooses to take her brother on a fishing trip and tells her she has to stay home. But as we find out all throughout the film, the father of this family never ceased loving each and every single member of his family. Her perception of reality was not true reality.
This tension was something that the son intuits. As the father and son spend the afternoon near a waterfall (they’re able to speak out loud due to the louder noise of the waterfall masking the sound of their voices), the son discloses to the father that the daughter thinks that he blames her for the loss of the youngest child. The father is surprised and immediately affirms that this is not the case, that he loves and has always loved his children. Although the scene abruptly ends, it appears that the father makes a note to address this with his daughter later.
I think there is a lot that we can reflect on here. How many times do we, as beloved sons of God the Father, forget about or question the love of God the Father? Maybe it's when we’ve fallen on hard times and feel completely defeated and helpless. Or maybe there’s some suffering we are enduring that we want to end. Any time we lose sight of the love that God has for us, we are slipping into a lie. There is nothing we can do to lose God’s Love. And as the father demonstrates in the film, not for a second did he stop loving his daughter.
The movie crescendos in a terrifying sequence of events. The mother (played by Emily Blunt) begins to go through labor while the rest of the family is gone from their shelter. As sounds attract the monster, the mother hides as long as she can, until she gives birth in the bathtub of the house. The father comes home with the son to the chaos of their shelter. After the son lights off some fireworks as a distraction, the father is reunited with his wife who has given birth to their child. After securing her and their baby in a soundproof shelter, the father goes out to find his son and daughter (who had previously ran away to visit the gravesite of her younger brother).
Through a crazy sequence of events, the children find themselves hiding out in an old truck while one of the monsters begins to descend upon them. With extreme danger closing in, and very few alternatives in place, the father knows what he must do. Lovingly looking upon his children in the cab, he signs “I love you. I have always loved you.” While these words were meant for both children, it seems like they were particularly directed to the daughter to serve as a last chance affirmation for her to finally understand. These words, however, are not the only confirmation the father gives to his daughters doubt. As the children stare at their father, loving him, they begin to realize what he plans on doing. The father, through tears, screams at the top of his lungs, drawing the monster to himself, so his children could escape without harm.
The obvious connection here would be to Christ laying down his life. Christ, the True Man, shows us men what it means to be a man: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). But it is in the great sacrifice that the father offers which proves to the daughter exactly how much he loves her. God the Father has offered His only Beloved Son as a ransom for all of us. God has demonstrated the extent of His love, not sparing even His own Son to win our hearts back. Too often I can get complacent about the Cross. Being raised Catholic we’ve heard the story of Christ’s life over and over again. The magnitude of the sacrifice can easily be forgotten.
If you’re experiencing doubts in the love that God the Father has for you, gaze upon the Crucifix with fresh eyes. Imagine Jesus on the cross looking at you straight in the eyes and saying the words that John Krasinski signed with such passion, “I love you. I have always loved you”. Try to imagine (because it is true!) that God the Father is offering His only Son, for only you. That He cares so much about you being able to be reunited with Him in Heaven that He gave it all. Even still, it’s difficult to see where or how God loves us in the day to day. But for each and every one of us, God’s love has never ceased and it will never run out. Ultimately, faith and trust are gifts that we must ask for from God, by name. They’re not something we can develop apart from God. Ask for them today! Cast out your fear. Fear is useless, what is needed is Trust.
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