The Quarry

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Quarry Movie Poster Image
Great performances make violent crime story worth seeing.
  • R
  • 2020
  • 98 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Offers a few somewhat vague messages about discrimination (shown to be ugly) and forgiveness (shown to be enlightening), although these are secondary to movie's main story.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No role models here, although the most violent characters do end up facing consequences for their actions.

Violence

Guns and shooting. Stabbing. Brutal punching. Character killed. Body buried. Gory, decomposing corpse shown. Blood shown, bloody wounds. Broken glass stuck in hand. House on fire. Nightmare sequences: Person in coffin buried alive. Descriptions of violent incidents.

Sex

A couple has a sexual relationship; they're seen in the bedroom together -- nothing explicit shown. Sex-related dialogue (a character describes an affair).

Language

Uses of "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," "bastard," "hell," "damn," and "d--k," plus exclamatory uses of "Jesus" and "God."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Secondary characters are drug dealers. Bag of pot shown. A secondary character seems to be an alcoholic; he drinks wine while driving, keeps crate full of wine bottles behind driver's seat. Character smokes cigarettes. Wine with dinner.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Quarry is a crime drama about a man who kills and then impersonates a priest and tries not to get caught. Violence is the biggest issue: There are guns and shooting, fatal punching, deaths and dead bodies (as well as a gory decomposed corpse), blood/minor gore, nightmare sequences of a person buried alive and trapped in a coffin, and more. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," etc. Secondary characters are drug dealers, and pot is shown. Another secondary character appears to be an alcoholic, drinking bottles of wine while driving. A character smokes. A couple appears to be having a sexual affair, and there's some sex-related talk. The movie is a little slow, but its two fine performances (by Shea Whigham and Michael Shannon) spark some fascinating moments, and it's worth seeing for mature viewers.

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What's the story?

In THE QUARRY, a preacher (Bruno Bichir) drives through Texas and comes upon an unconscious man (Shea Whigham) by the side of the road. At a quarry, the priest provokes him, and the man punches the preacher, killing him. The man then buries the body and assumes the preacher's identity. Now "David Martin," he drives on to a small town, where Celia (Catalina Sandino Moreno) waits for him with a room. During the night, the van is robbed. Police chief Moore (Michael Shannon) takes the report but seems suspicious. David starts giving sermons -- unexpectedly, he's a success, and more people begin attending. Meanwhile, the thieves have traced David's whereabouts back to the quarry.

Is it any good?

A dusty, rural crime story, this slow-paced drama doesn't dig very deep, but the sun-baked, wind-blown setting and the nuanced performances by the two gifted lead actors make it well worth a look. Based on a novel by South African writer Damon Galgut (which was already made into a movie in that country in 1998), The Quarry has a few problems of translation -- a few small details that don't quite fit the Texas backdrop. And it provides very little to do for Moreno (which is too bad, considering that she was unforgettable in Maria Full of Grace).

In broad strokes, The Quarry takes on prejudice and anti-immigrant attitudes, but it doesn't go very far, especially given that one of its major immigrant characters is actually a drug dealer and that Whigham's White character can't speak Spanish. But the movie sparks to life when Whigham and Shannon play cat-and-mouse with each other. And Whigham's scenes in the church as he reads words of forgiveness are quite moving. Both stars are character actors of the highest caliber -- they've worked together many times before, in films like Boardwalk Empire -- and their work here is more than enough to make the movie worth a look.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Quarry's violence. How strong is it? How did it make you feel? Are there consequences for violence? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • How are alcohol, drugs, and smoking depicted? Are these things glamorized? Are there consequences? Why is that important?

  • What does the movie have to say about forgiveness? What does The Man learn about himself and about others while giving his sermons? Who deserves to be forgiven?

  • How are other cultures depicted in The Quarry? Is there discrimination based on race or culture? Are there stereotypes?

  • How does the movie compare to the Damon Galgut book it's based on? To the earlier 1998 movie?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

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