Review: The Quiet Room

By Dan Krovich

November 19, 2002

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The Quiet Room was made as an episode of the Showtime show, Fallen Angels, an anthology series in which notables such as Peter Bogdanovich, Tom Hanks, and Tom Cruise, among others, took their shot at directing 30-minute noir tales. Steven Soderbergh's episode is based on a short story by Jonathan Craig and stars Joe Mantegna and Bonnie Bedelia as a pair of police officers running a shakedown scheme.

The plan is pretty simple. Sally (Bedelia) brings in young prostitutes for questioning. She is not particularly interested in arresting them to punish them for their crime, and instead questions them about their johns. She passes this information on to Carl (Mantegna) who uses this information to extort money from the wealthy johns who have a lot to lose if these indiscretions get out. Carl and Sally also have an affair going on the side, and with all of these extracuricular activities, Carl, a single father, has been neglecting his teenage daughter.

The Quiet Room has all of the necessary noir elements: the period setting, the shady characters with questionable scruples, and the suspicious actions of the characters. It also reveals fairly obviously that it comes from short story source material. The set up, complication and final twist structure are fairly standard for the short story form. As far as style, it is also fairly obvious that The Quiet Room was made for television. That may be considered a negative by some, but it is more meant as a matter of fact. The film is extremely straightforward, and Soderbergh tends to simply not get in the way of his actors. Mantegna and Bedelia are old pros and have good chemistry together, so it makes sense to stand back and let them work.

Ultimately, The Quiet Room is what it is - a somewhat workmanlike delivery of genre fare. There is nothing revolutionary about it, but it does deliver the goods proficiently and will likely satisfy fans of the genre. It's short, sweet, and satisfying and certainly accomplished its goals as part of an ongoing series.