the quiet girl
starring: catherine clinch, carrie crowley, andrew bennett, and michael patrick
REVIEWER: lyall carter
A quiet, neglected girl is sent away from her dysfunctional family to live with foster parents for the summer. She blossoms in their care, but in this house where there are meant to be no secrets, she discovers one.
Cáit is a nine year-old girl from an overcrowded, dysfunctional and impoverished family. Quietly struggling at school and at home, she has learnt to hide in plain sight from those around her.
As summer arrives and her pregnant mother’s due date approaches, Cáit is sent to live with distant relatives. Without knowing when she will return home, she is left at the strangers’ house with only the clothes she is wearing. The Kinsellas, a middle-aged couple she has never met, dress the girl in what clothes they have.
They are farming people, like her own, but hard-working and wanting for nothing, it seems. Despite a warm reception from the woman, Eibhlín, the man of the house, Seán, keeps his distance from Cáit and she from him, but over time, their strained relationship begins to deepen.
It’s a common occurrence for me to shed a tear while watching a movie or a TV show. Perfectly normal. But I can’t remember the last time I sobbed uncontrollably. Until The Quiet Girl.
Now I know what you must be thinking. The content of the tale must have been truly heartbreaking, they must have cranked up the music and filled the film with sappy, sentimentality. It couldn’t be further from the truth.
The Quiet Girl is a considered, observational film that follows the everyday life of nine year old Cáit, allowing us to see the world from her perspective as she experiences everything from having a proper bath to seeing a dead man at a wake for the very first time. It's pretty clear that director Colm Bairéad has spent a lot of his career making documentaries.
Bairéad masterfully crafts the film through the way in which he has shot it. Instead of an intimate closeup for an emotionally charged scene he pulls out to a wide shot, capturing the entirety of the action. Characters walk out of shot, out of focus just so we catch a glimpse, in response to devastating news. And while Krasinski used silence spectacularly to build up suspense in A Quiet Place, Bairéad uses it between two characters to say much more than dialogue ever could.
All these small moments within the film, which never stoop down towards naked sentimentality, builds to a concluding scene that will tear your heart out of your chest. You have been warned. You will weep buckets. One of the best films of 2022.
Catherine Clinch in her debut role as Cáit gives the most memorable performance from a youngster since Saoirse Ronan turn in 2007’s Atonement. Expect her career to go stratospheric in the coming years.
The Quiet Girl is a masterpiece in every way. Go and see it. Now. One of 2022’s best.