Lifestyle

Hearing Loss and Heroism Shine in "A Quiet Place"

One of the latest films to come sweeping through the box office in spectacular fashion is John Krasinski’s directorial debut, A Quiet Place. The film is already being dubbed a worthy addition to the Horror/Suspense genre and a success for the deaf and hard of hearing community. This is due largely in part to the film’s deaf co-star Millicent Simmonds and the film’s use of American Sign Language.

Spoiler-Free

This suspenseful thriller provides a glimpse into a world where silence is truly golden, and where sound may just get you snatched up and eaten by a giant monster. This is the setting you’re dropped into in John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place. You follow a family led by Krasinski himself, alongside real-life and in-movie wife Emily Blunt, as they try to survive in a post-apocalyptic America, moving in silence to avoid alerting a mysterious pack of creatures with seemingly hyperevolved levels of hearing. 

Now, for the sake of how great this movie is, I won’t dive into much more of the story and will highly suggest going to see it for yourself in a theater. If you have a significant hearing loss or deafness, you can find your nearest closed-captioned showtimes using a convenient website called CaptionFish to find a screening near you!

What I will talk about is how absolutely awesome actress Millicent Simmonds is in the role. Reports claim that Krasinski pushed for the casting of a deaf actress, as her character in the film also lives with a full sensorineural hearing loss and has a cochlear implant. American Sign Language is used throughout the entirety of the film, proving more vital than ever as a means of communicating safely in the silence, as well as being the main form of communication between Simmonds' character Regan and her family. 

Both sound and silence are very much their own characters in the film, helping to create a unique level of tension as the story unfolds. Throughout the film, the camera switches points of view to hear the world through the ears of Regan. It’s in these moments that the sound in the theater becomes almost entirely muted and it doesn’t take long to feel slightly anxious while not being able to fully hear your surroundings in extremely tense and nervous moments. Yet, her character handles herself with courage while also shedding light on some of the more personal struggles one can have when trying to cope with hearing loss.

Moments like these throughout the film offer a valuable experience - one that every able-hearing person would benefit from - to be placed in the shoes of someone with a hearing loss in multiple situations. This element of the narrative succeeds in making the audience realize how easy it is to take our sense of hearing for granted.

In a recent interview with NowThis, Simmonds spoke about her hopes that the film will inspire more filmmakers to look to the deaf and hard of hearing community for roles:

“I think it’s important in the deaf community to advocate for and be a representative for this story. A story that might inspire directors and other screenwriters to include more deaf talent and be more creative in the way you use deaf talent,” she said. “I think that could be a wonderful thing to see. Not only deaf actors but other disabled actors, as well.”

“What I hope is that I can show (my community) you can do anything. Not only become an actor, but a writer, a teacher, a pilot, anything you want to do is possible. Just work hard, and people will recognize that,” she said.

We couldn’t agree more with Simmonds here at SayWhat and we hope to see more feature films look to the deaf/hard of hearing community as John Krasinski did in A Quiet Place.

Hearing loss is an extremely important subject and the more it is brought to the forefront of discussion - even if it comes in the form of a scary movie - the more others will learn to take proper care of their hearing and gain better awareness for the experiences that our Deaf friends and loved ones live with. A Quiet Place is playing now in all theaters so be sure to check it out!

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