Silent Night Review: Keira Knightley Apocalyptic Christmas

A little boy looks horrified while sitting at a festive dinner table decorated with candles.

Jojo rabbitRoman Griffin Davis stars Quiet night.
Picture: AMC + and RLJE Films

There are tons of movies about people trying to negotiate post-apocalypse. Less common are movies about people counting down until the end of the world– although they certainly exist, with approaches as diverse as Roland Emmerich‘s great, loud disaster movie 2012 and Lars von Triers pensive, nihilistic Melancholy. Author-director Camille Griffin’s Quiet night more similar to the latter, though it has its own approach to putting a group of wealthy and beautiful people into the gloomiest scenario imaginable.

There is also one Christmas themed movie, as the title suggests, and it starts with the windy energy of British holiday films that has come before – a resemblance reinforced by the presence of Actually loveis Keira Knightley. She leads the ensemble as Nell, wife of Simon (A discovery of witches‘Matthew Goode), mother of three boys, and chips Christmas Eve hostess for a bunch of close friends and their partners. (The rest of the excellent cast includes Malignant‘s Annabelle Wallis as Sandra, A series of unfortunate events‘Lucy Punch as Bella, The good place‘s Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Alex, His houseThanks, like James, Yoga Hosers‘Lily-Rose Depp as Sophie and young Jojo rabbit exclaims Roman Griffin Davis, who is also the son of the author-director, as Art).

Early on, we begin to get small hints that there is more to this well-attended gathering than the usual festive spectrum of presents, Christmas carols, sweets, micro-aggressions among the adults, and full of quarrels between the children. Simon sets the hens free because “it’s friendlier if the foxes get them first.” Sandra confidently admits that she spent her daughter’s tuition on her glamorous dress and shoes. James reminds Nell, as she sighs about growing old, that yes – they was to grow old. But now things are different.

Everything is good!  Why do you ask?

Everything is good! Why do you ask?
Picture: AMC + and RLJE Films

Quiet night does not make us wait to find out what all this warning means, even though our explanation of the impending apocalypse comes from the children, which means we get a distorted interpretation of what is going on. Apparently, the Earth has accumulated all the pollution in a deadly cloud of poison that is slowly spreading across the planet. Once engulfed, the planet will be uninhabitable for at least 100 years. The cloud will reach the party place on Christmas morning. The British government has also generously provided every legal citizen with an “exit pill” that allows them to die quickly and painlessly instead of being cruelly suffocated by toxic fumes.

The latter fact drives much forward Quiet night‘s drama; almost everyone has already resigned with suicide, except for the outspoken Sophie (the lone American in the group she has also recently learned she is pregnant) and the early, suspicious, and increasingly conspiracy-minded art. The parents in the group insist that “we do not kill our children”, but there is guilt and guilt in the air, not only because of the pills they will give their offspring, but because it is at least partly their fault, that the Earth has been fucked for future generations.

Yes, still fine!  Have fun, everyone!

Yes, still fine! Have fun, everyone!
Picture: AMC + and RLJE Films

While Quiet night ponders the difficult prospect of curing a more pleasant death for your loved ones – while emphasizing the fact that not everyone in the world is able to approach doomsday from such a privileged place – it also gives the characters room to experience the full range of emotions that come with meeting the impending end. There are dance parties (with songs on the nose: “Fame! I’m gonna live forever!”), Tear-jerking confessions, screaming quarrels, heartbreaking farewells, horrific moments of truth-truth and strangely petty. claim – because which grubby animal swallows a suicide pill while it swallows from one lukewarm canned cola? It gets exhausting and even a bit silly as the ticking clock structure brings us closer to the end and you start to realize that you don’t care about the (seemingly inevitable) fate. Quiet nights grades. Most of them are really not so sympathetic – with the exception of James, who is conflict-filled but still compassionate, and Alex, who avoids all the shrill pettiness by throwing his sobriety aside and drowning himself in champagne.

It’s thanks to Art, who ends up carrying the film for the most part, that we begin to question whether the cloud really is what the government says it is – of course, all evidence to the contrary, but the seeds of doubt are certainly planted. However, Quiet night is more invested in chronicling the personal collapse of his characters than it is in investigating what could be a broader mystery surrounding its history. There’s an uneasy feeling as the film approaches its grim conclusion – with a slight twist at the end that either sets the stage for a post-apocalyptic sequel or opens a gaping plot hole for one big “gotcha!” last shot. When you get there, you might be too upset.

Quiet night coming December 3rd in theaters and on AMC +.

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