The city of New Orleans, as depicted in the locally set and shot melodrama A Quiet Storm – and as it would have you believe – is one of neverending and unforgiving punishment, only stopping on occasion for a celebratory trip or two to Red Lobster ™. Indeed, gun violence has been and continues to be completely out of hand, affecting communities in NOLA disproportionately and most tragically, especially in emotional and traumatic ways we don’t often consider. Family above all else, loose lips sink ships, etc permeate through a culture that’s been harmed far too many times. A culture too familiar with bloodshed. A culture that has every reason to distrust those wearing a badge.
We exist in a cycle. Nothing ever ends. It’s a living purgatory for many.
Jason Affolder, New Orleans firefighter turned filmmaker, believes in this clearly and most genuinely. If anything can be said of A Quiet Storm first and foremost, it’s that the portrait presented of our city is one of penetrating sadness and unachievable justice. This may be unfortunately true for many a resident, and the film ought to be commended for expressing this with brute force, but the manner to which it reaches its point on actions having consequences, on what the “right” thing is and the cost of doing that, is hammer pounding a nail subtle and brick-level dumb.
That a movie with crisp cinematography and such underlying thematic understanding can be as incoherent, as confusing, and as stubborn as A Quiet Storm is astonishing. Perhaps Affolder was too close personally to the material, perhaps he had too many ideas and threw everything into a pot, I don’t know. What I do know is this: A morality tale like this need not end optimistically or even have a final lesson to be taught (especially for issues like gun violence and street crime), but it should have a clarity of vision. It should be clear as to where we’ve ended up and how we got to that point.
Across the board, the movie suffers from being under and overwritten, under and over-directed, many a cliche, painful dialogue, and even more harmful line delivery. A Quiet Storm borrows ideas from classics such as Boyz in the Hood but with a spin that falls flat and dull. In place of clever writing, we have an over-reliance on swear words and common local phrases. In place of something compelling, we have a murky muck of generalized and depressing thoughts that are culled together with flimsy staples. In place of profundity, we have doofiness filling the room with chuckles and eye rolls.
It’s a crying shame given the main performance by actress Morgan Glover who, at the center of everything, is rock solid as the foundation for potential change. For the potential breaking of cyclical chains. For showing stoicism in the face of familial obligation and cultural stress. She’s quite a discovery really, and I hope to see more of her down the line. A Quiet Storm doesn’t rely on her nearly as much as it could’ve or should’ve, instead treating her more as a prop among several to get to the wholly unholy climax where all threads become twisted in a twist most unexpected and confused.
A Quiet Storm was made many years ago, but will soon see the light of a release day. What it gets right is in the feel for a city in turmoil. What it gets wrong is in tripping over itself in a race against itself to be as askew as possible. What it gets wrong is in favoring surprise over resolution. What it gets wrong is showing off while having too little.
Jason Affolder may have plenty to say but lacks the articulation to convey. Still, through the rain and lightning of this storm, there is a silver lining: New Orleans is captured as a setting near perfectly. The occasional ruined homes, the corner stores with limited groceries but plenty of discount phone plans, the pot-holes, and more. A Quiet Storm has its many problem, but it’s home. That’s for sure.
RATING: 2 / 5
A Quiet Storm releases sometime later this year. For inquiries, feel free to message Producer Jonathan Woods at firstname.lastname@example.org