Lisa Schwarzbaum
April 04, 1997 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Quiet Room

Current Status
In Season
Chloe Ferguson, Celine O'Leary
Rolf De Heer

We gave it an A-

Dutch-born, Australia-based Rolf de Heer’s unusual and beautifully made film sensitively describes the world of an unnamed 7-year-old girl (nonpro Chloe Ferguson, perfectly moving in her dignified unself-consciousness) who, overwhelmed by a crush of feelings she can’t sort out in the face of her parents’ unraveling marriage, stops speaking altogether. Yet while her voice rests, she speaks the words she wishes she could say in a voice-over that captures the little pains and pleasures of childhood with remarkable empathy. (The good times feel ”smooth”; the worrisome times when Dad and Mum fight feel ”sharp.”) The mood study loses some intensity as it winds down, but De Heer (Bad Boy Bubby) and cinematographer Tony Clark sustain an enchanting, child’s-eye visual style throughout, lingering on textures and a deep crayon-hued palette with a pleasure that’ll make you want to sniff some Crayolas. With Australian stage and film actors Celine O’Leary and Paul Blackwell as mother and father, and Chloe’s 3-year-old sister, Phoebe, as the daughter in happier times. A-

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