Directed by Pablo Trapero, The Quietude follows sisters Mia (Martina Gusman) and Eugenia (Bérénice Bejo) as they convene at their parents’ country estate after the patriarch falls ill – with the deliberately-paced narrative detailing the characters’ low-key exploits and their handling of the various secrets that inevitably come out. It’s a subdued, low-stakes setup that’s employed to almost passable yet rarely engrossing effect by Trapero, as The Quietude, for the most part, comes off as what feels like a short film that’s been awkwardly and ineffectually stretched out to feature length – with Trapero’s screenplay boasting too few elements designed to capture and sustain the viewer’s interest. This is despite a decidedly lush visual sensibility and a series of top-notch performances, with, in terms of the latter, both Gusman and Bejo stepping into the shoes of their respective characters with an ease that’s often hypnotic. The movie’s almost total lack of momentum does become more and more problematic as time slowly progresses, though, and it’s clear, too, that the hands-off atmosphere is compounded by an absence of standout sequences. (The one fairly significant exception to this is a mid-picture, one-take scene set in and around a funeral, as the scene boasts a vitality and energy that’s otherwise mostly absent.) And although certain revelations in the movie’s climactic stretch threaten to turn things around, The Quietude has long-since confirmed its place as a well-made, well-acted bit of film festival tedium.
** out of ****