Playing out in real time, SOFT & QUIET is a runaway train that follows a single afternoon in the life of Emily, an elementary school teacher. Emily organizes the inaugural club mixer of like-minded women, and she indoctrinates them into her sisterhood. When they all decide to move the meeting to Emily’s house, they stop at the local store to pick up refreshments, where an altercation breaks out between two sisters and the club that spirals into a volatile chain of events.
Having a film run in real-time is already bold. In Soft & Quiet, that is the tip of the iceberg. Essentially, a group of Karens sharing their super racist views embrace each other at their first official group meeting. The dialogue takes every offensive, cliché, and horrifying thing spewed over the internet, heard on cell phone footage, and in national rallies, especially since Obama was running for office. Government suspicion, recruiting, homeschooling, The Constitution, traditional family, you name it, the subject appears in this script. It’s like reading through the comments section on Facebook or 8chan. It’s terrifying.
Handheld camerawork immerses the viewer inside the film, moving from speaker to speaker, moving with the action. The amount of rehearsal this must have required is mind-boggling. The subtle digs are clever. Leslie’s jacket reads “Lieben Zu Hassen” which translates from German to English as “Love To Hate.” I have to hand it to this cast. It is the nonchalance that kills you. To say vitriolic things and act in such a vile manner, you have to trust your director and your fellow cast members. The hidden humor of these women traveling in a minivan is unmissable.
As you awkwardly cringe at the horror of it all, your level of anticipation simmers wildly. It’s so uncomfortable your palms will sweat. The film is sliced right down the middle. The first half respects the title, and the second half goes off the rails. As the terror increases, your heart will be in your throat. Soft & Quiet is a powder keg. It is pure rage-fueled, technically coordinated, chaos. This film deserves a hard and loud standing ovation for writer-director Beth de Araújo. This is a thrilling masterpiece.