Soft and Quiet

Supreme American pie

This audacious debut feature from writer/director Beth de Araujo does indeed start out as the title suggests, with an elementary school teacher (Stefanie Estes) arranging a polite afternoon church tea with a half-dozen other civic-minded women to share ways in which their community can be improved.

The first subtle indication that their idea of “community” may not be, um, inclusive is the shape carved into the crust of the delicious homemade cherry pie she’s brought along (I’ll not spoil the surprise). One lady bemoans the loss of her job to a better-qualified person, others blame immigrants, minorities, Jews and queers for their failures. Or “reverse racism.” One nice lady is nobly carrying on her family’s Klan tradition.

They’re soon kicked out of the church and head for one of their homes, stopping to pick up a little wine along the way. An altercation occurs. By the time you realize that you’re in for a rough ride-along with these twits (a possible misspelling), it’s impossible to turn away, and things quickly escalate from closet bigotry to full-blown, violent, white supremacist hate crime.

This minimalist horror/thriller is an extremely unpleasant sit. That it plays out in real-time in one long, seemingly unbroken take has the effect of making you a witness or even an unwilling accomplice. If this film makes you uncomfortable, and it will, then it’s doing what it was designed to do. (91 min)