The quiet girl2022.
Directed by Colm Bairead.
With Catherine Clinch, Carrie Crowley and Andrew Bennett.
Living with more siblings than her parents know what to do with, lowly Cáit (Catherine Clinch) is sent to live with distant acquaintances for a summer. Learning to navigate her own place in the world, the sometimes-tense Seán (Andrew Bennet) and the always-willful Eibhlín (Carrie Crowley) are able to coax Cáit out of her shell bit by bit. As time passes and emotional bonds form, Cáit learns that the couple’s past is not as it appears.
Even the most discerning movie buff can count on one hand the number of films they’ve watched with an Irish Gaelic script. A muted banter between his mother tongue and juxtaposed English, Colm Bairéad The quiet girl is an effortless testament to the power of subtle, contained drama. Stunning in its vulnerable silence and prolonged shadowplay, audiences are treated to a rare glimpse into a world through the eyes of a child where no adult has the emotional tact or command that should be granted. . Through frames of hills and a wind that whistles louder than the voice of reason, a silent cruelty reveals itself in the youthful minds of adulthood.
With sparse dialogue and slow-paced drama, it might be surprising to see so many questions packed into a 94-minute runtime. Who deserves to be a parent? Who deserves to be a child? Living on the edge of rural poverty, Cáit has naturally blended into the background of the quiet chaos that her parents and siblings effortlessly lap up. Her father shows an active disdain for her existence, confident in his moral conscience to leave Cáit with near strangers, even when his suitcase follows him home. Therein lies a self-righteous dilemma of the bitterness of not wanting a child, with the family’s living conditions only further exacerbating Cáit’s forced disdain to exist. It shouldn’t be too much to ask for a moment of peace – you could say that time for oneself is a societal right. Retreating into the overgrown reeds of the surrounding secluded fields, Cáit is regularly scorned for experiencing the world as it comes naturally to her.
What is most interesting in quiet girls the visual canon is its extensive use of height, shadow, and facial recognition. As viewers begin to peek at who Cáit might be, her face is often obscured, covered in mounds of grass, tucked under a bed, or peering longingly from a long-forgotten window. It is only when others approach her with a humanistic gaze that her complexion returns to the cinematic gaze, as if she had learned to deign them worthy of her time. It’s almost ironic that a rigidly forested farmhouse can provide a place of refuge, releasing the simplicity of childlike wonder with a cinematic break to appreciate the little things. As Cáit agrees to part ways with a place she can truly call home, the stereotypical romanticism of twisty car journeys is turned on its head, acting as a reluctant return to a supposed right of place.
While it might be considered predictable, the feeling of dread of homecoming is exactly what draws the film’s dramatic hooks. Thematically, the importance of the cinematic message is held in the arms of the ensemble performance, often delivered blindly between knowing glances. Catherine Clinch’s Cáit speaks to an inner child that adults have each embodied as they discover a world that’s ready to leave her behind. Seán de Bennett has the most obvious character development, going from patriarchal distance to a kind man learning to love once more through Cáit’s imitation out of admiration and respect. It is arguably Carrie Crowley’s Eibhlín who holds the most narrative influence, simultaneously with open arms while subconsciously reinforcing ideals of secrecy as shame. Together, the trio represents beauty in the language of silence, perpetuating the dual need to belong and to have something that belongs to you.
The power of saying nothing comes thick and fast in each of quiet girls beautifully crafted scenes. The impersonations of the past rise up to chase the ghosts from the closet of the present, while death brings a truth that grounds a level of closeness Cáit has never known. It might be pointless to cry over spilled milk, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for its leftovers.
Scintillating Myth Rating – Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Jasmine Valentine – Follow me on Twitter.