The quiet girl is the type of coming-of-age drama that sneaks up on you and fills your heart with a wave of emotion. Writer/director Colm Bairéad interweaves a wonderfully beautiful story with Catherine Clinch’s incredibly delicate performance to create a film that is both poignant and thought-provoking. Audiences would be better served bringing a box of tissues for the guaranteed aqueducts, but those tears are won with a vivid story.
“The Quiet Girl” is a subtle tale set in rural Ireland in 1981
The quiet girl is set in 1981 in rural Ireland. Cáit (Clinch) is a withdrawn and neglected girl who lives in a full house where another child is on the way. However, her whole world is turned upside down when her dysfunctional family makes the decision to leave her with adoptive parents for the summer. She first locks her feelings deeper inside, but she soon begins to discover hope in this new home.
An older couple named Eibhlín (Carrie Crowley) and Seán Cinnsealach (Andrew Bennett) open their home in Cáit. She thrives under their care, though she realizes it’s only temporary. Eibhlín explains that they live on a farm with no secrets, but they hide one from the deep-sinking girl.
Writer/director Colm Bairéad creates a beautiful story about the meaning of home and family
The quiet girl finds Cáit living a fairly solitary existence as an outcast in every possible social setting. Her parents don’t bother to get in touch with her and the other kids at school consider her the “weird” girl. Cáit’s relationship with her siblings doesn’t get much better, as they regularly push her to the fringes of the family. However, one summer away is about to change everything.
Bairéad’s screenplay depicts the multiple shapes and silhouettes that make up a family. Cáit’s biological is cold and aloof, which creates a striking juxtaposition with the warmth and closeness found in her foster family. This is essential in the film’s examination of what the concept of home really means, extending far beyond its physical manifestation. The quiet girl is all about the unsaid for both the characters and the audience, establishing a rich world that deeply embraces its audience.
Cáit isn’t the only one who needs time to adjust to her new living situation. Eibhlín and Seán both handle his arrival in different ways. Eibhlín welcomes her with open arms, feeling immense sympathy for the girl and her situation. However, Seán displays a coldness towards her, although it is a different distance than she experienced with her biological father. Cáit and her new adoptive parents have things to learn from each other as they rediscover what it means to love again.
“The Quiet Girl” is one of the best films of the year
Bairead’s feature debut makes him a talent to watch as both writer and director. it’s sentimental storytelling, but never moving the taps exploits trauma. Bairéad has great respect for Cáit and her temporary adoptive parents, as well as for the public having the opportunity to live their story. Additionally, Kate McCullough’s lush cinematography brings out the brilliant greens of the environment and the increasingly vibrant colors of Cáit’s clothing in the foreground. She makes the world around the lead seem so big and intimidating, yet so beautiful with hints of nostalgia.
Bairéad requires a little patience in her narration, just as this young girl takes the time to open up to others. However, it is extremely rewarding for those who stick with it and give it the opportunity to hang on to it. Clinch further enhances the film’s charm with a calm, yet superb and nuanced performance that speaks volumes with few words. She communicates entire monologues with just a look.
The quiet girl is one of the best films of the year, containing the warmest and most deeply touching hug scene in recent memory. Ireland named the film its 2023 Oscar submission as its international feature entry for good reason. He exudes such empathy that you can’t help but fall in love with him. It’s a must-see movie that hugs you in an embrace like no other.
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