The trouble with Quiet Chaos is that there’s too much quiet and not enough chaos. The emotional turmoil spoken about by the film’s characters rarely punctures its tranquil, sleepy surface. Floating along with middle-aged businessman and recent widower Pietro (Nanni Moretti, who also co-adapted the screenplay from Sandro Veronesi’s novel) on his shambling journey of self-discovery and personal reconfiguration, we enjoy his company but rarely feel or understand his pain, leaving this slight, sentimental movie to coast on innocuous charm and little more.
Having saved two drowning women with brother Carlo (Alessandro Gassman) while at the ocean, Pietro returns to his beach house to find his wife lifeless on the grass. Riddled with regrets over how his career at an unnamed media corporation has distanced him from his family, he becomes the sole caregiver for their precocious ten-year-old daughter, Claudia (Blu Yoshimi). As stressful talks of a large merger heat up at the office, Pietro makes an impromptu promise to Claudia to wait for her in the leafy square outside her school until she returns from classes. He does so, and soon finds himself returning there day after day, striking up new acquaintances and counseling his business associates and pregnant sister-in-law, Marta (Valeria Golino), as they come to visit him. All the while, he wrestles with his own conflicted thoughts on his role as a husband and now-single father. Click here to read the rest of Matt Connolly’s review of Quiet Chaos.