It's All So Quiet

On a placid Dutch dairy farm, 55-year-old Helmer cares for his ailing father and goes about the drudgery of his daily chores. Despite cheerful visits from the woman next door and friendly overtures from a burly milk-truck driver, Helmer seems intent on rebuffing human contact, consigning himself to a hard loneliness born of some unexpressed pain. But through the exquisite intimacy of director Nanouk Leopold’s camera, as well as the magnetic intensity of Jeroen Willems’s lead performance, we glimpse something stirring in Helmer: a room is renovated, a young farmhand arrives… tiny earthquakes that make us wonder if we are witnessing everyday changes or something more profound.

It’s All So Quiet is aptly titled—the dialogue is sparse; the pacing, unhurried—but this is a “quiet” film in the way that a Vermeer is a “quiet” painting: if you pay close attention, something intimate and marvelous is revealed. The film rewards viewers with its beautifully observed scenes of rural life and its rare depiction of the intense longings of ordinary people. While Helmer was Willems’s last leading role—the actor died unexpectedly just after completing this film—he has left us with a memorable portrait of a quiet man beginning to listen to the sound of his own heart.


In Dutch with English subtitles.

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