Nine-year-old Cáit (Catherine Clinch), who is bullied at school and overlooked at home, is sent in the summer of 1981 to live with distant relatives in rural Ireland. Ireland’s official entry, THE QUIET GIRL, is one of the five movies nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars. It’s the kind of small, quiet film true cinephiles live to experience.
Languishing in an already crowded household with another baby due soon, Cáit has no say in the matter when her father, Athair Cháit (Michael Patric), drives her to the farm owned by Seán (Andrew Bennett) and Eibhlín (Carrie Crowley) Cinnsealach. Put off by Seán’s questions regarding his own farm, Athair leaves in a rush, forgetting that Cáit’s meager belongings are still in his car. Left with only the clothes she’s wearing, Eibhlín dresses her in whatever she can find.
This childless woman is immediately taken with the quiet child, feeding and bathing Cáit with great care. She longs for Cáit to learn the ways of their farm and prevails upon Seán to teach her. Initially wary of one another, these two form a bond destined to be unbroken, despite the painful secret Cáit uncovers.
Clinch as Cáit is remarkable. She may be quiet, but her non-verbal actions speak volumes. She’s a beautiful Irish lass who develops into a confident child through the help of two very loving people. Watching this dynamic unfold is what makes THE QUIET GIRL so meaningful --- and so engaging. It’s quite a stunning performance from such a young person.
And of course, much of the credit for the movie’s appeal --- and success --- lies in the portrayals by Crowley and Bennett. Their angst and joy are palpable, both separately and at once. Each of these two actors gives the subtlest of performances which adds to the beauty of this story.
THE QUIET GIRL is full of mesmerizing moments perpetrated by the three main characters. Watching Eibhlín bathe Cáit’s arm, witnessing the bond grow between Cáit and Seán as they sit together in the dark on a warm summer’s night and Cáit’s joy at besting her time running to and from the postbox --- these are the scenes that make THE QUIET GIRL worthy of its accolades.
Making his feature film debut, writer/director Colm Bairéad was raised in Dublin in a bilingual home. His decision to use both Irish and English in THE QUIET GIRL is a tribute to his upbringing and has established his work as some of the best ever done by a director in the Irish language. This effort will not soon be forgotten.
Opinion: Strong See It Now!
Young children who tend to keep to themselves, verbally at least, are often shunned by their schoolmates if not downright bullied. This is greatly exacerbated if a child’s home life also lacks loving parents.
In THE QUIET GIRL, Cáit (Catherine Clinch), is nine years old and her father (Michael Patric) is not particularly fond of her. Her mother (Kate Nic Chonaonaigh) is pregnant with their fifth baby. Neither parent is reluctant to give themselves a break from Cáit so they send her off to a cousin’s farm for the summer. Cáit has never met her temporary “foster” parents, but her life is about to change.
She is greeted by the childless couple, Eibhlín (Carrie Crowley) and her husband Seán (Andrew Bennett). The wife is immediately smitten with the darling Cáit while Seán does not exactly warm up to her right away. He essentially ignores her, for a while, but when he deposits a cookie on the kitchen table in front of Cáit as he leaves the room --- it's a sign. By the time Cáit must return to her family, a transformation has taken place. And it is totally heartwarming to witness.
THE QUIET GIRL is anchored by the fine performance of the young Ms. Clinch in her film debut. She gains our sympathy instantly and we are basically in love with her. And we are quick to appreciate Eibhlín and Seán as her new support system thanks to the moving portrayals by Crowley and Bennett.
THE QUIET GIRL is a small but valuable thesis on love. The kindness of strangers who morph into real family is a viable outcome for any child who feels unloved at home. It is a simple film directed by first-timer Colm Bairéad. He adapted the screenplay from a story called “Foster” by Claire Keegan. The film has justifiably garnered various awards and the Irish production is an Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film.
Jeanne and I share a special fondness for unpretentious stories that tug at your heartstrings. Currently the Bill Nighy British film LIVING (he’s nominated for a Best Actor Oscar) falls into that category. THE QUIET GIRL is equally compelling.
Opinion: Strong See It Now!