Fathering in A Quiet Place

  by Chris Horst

WARNING: Spoilers abound below. So many spoilers. If you have any plans to see this movie—and you absolutely should (though it’s rated PG-13 for a reason; we certainly don’t recommend it for kids)—avert your gaze.

My wife told me she wanted to see A Quiet Place in the theaters. I had seen the trailer and politely declined. I don’t equate scary movies with date nights. But I eventually relented and agreed to put my fears behind me.

I’m so glad that I did. I cannot recall a better theater experience. The directors did not waste a second, maximizing every scene from start to thrilling finish. The film is not as terrifying as the trailer led me to believe. It’s in that glorious Stranger Things / Signs category of scary movies: intense and gripping, but neither dark nor gory.

The highlight of the film was the performance of John Krasinski. It took about five minutes to realize Jim Halpert wasn’t in Scranton anymore. Now, I have never warred against bloodthirsty aliens. But among the brotherhood of fathers, I connected with Krasinski’s character, Lee Abbott.

The film, in short, pits Abbott’s family against the aliens. They struggle to lead normal lives without making a sound. All the Abbotts are remarkable in their own way, but here’s what I loved about Lee:

Assurance: Lee’s relationship with his oldest son takes us into the heart of fatherhood. Throughout the film, it is not Lee’s confidence in himself which inspires, but his confidence in his children. He believes in who they are and what they are capable of accomplishing. When he takes his son fishing, he insists his son is capable even when it’s clear his son doesn’t believe him. He trusts his son has what it takes to provide for the family, breathing his confidence into him.  

Unconditionality: Lee’s relationship with his daughter is strained. Early in the film, it’s clear his teenage daughter loves her dad, but is also frustrated by him. She believes he won’t give her enough freedom. Her strong will frustrates him. And I’d argue he messed up at times in how he expressed his love for her (that said: apocalyptic fathering is certainly hard). But he seized his final breaths to assert his love. As the film concludes, we see the countless hours Lee exerted to help his hearing-impaired daughter hear again. And we understand his love for his daughter did not come with conditions. No matter how strained, he loved her deeply.

Sacrifice: A Quiet Place takes us to a father’s deepest question: Would we give up everything if it meant our kids had a shot to live? Lee does just that, of course. Faced with his certain death or the certain death of his children, he chooses the former. Lee gave me a vision for the courage I’d hope to have in a terrible moment like that—and all the daily moments that distill down to that same question: Am I willing to give up my comforts to ease the pain of my children?

If you’ve read this far, I hope you have already seen the film. If you haven’t, skip the latest superhero flick and see A Quiet Place. As you do, you’ll look yourself in the mirror and ask the right sort of questions about who you are as a dad.


Postscript: We’ve covered other great movies before: Among others, Up, Big Hero Six, and Inside Out

Image from IMDB.