The Quiet Girl at GFF2022 review Pat Byrne

The Quiet Girl

The Quiet Girl – UK Premiere

Colm Bairéad’s first feature film has already received acclaim and this Irish language film was chosen to open the Dublin Film Festival 2022.

The drama set in rural Ireland is based on Claire Keegan’s fabulous short story ‘Foster’. The story is told through the eyes of Cáit (Catherine Clinch), a young girl, who is sent to spend summer with relatives of her mother to ease the burden on her impoverished family.

Eibhlín (Carrie Crowley) welcomes Cait with open arms and showers her in affection previously denied. Cait tells Eibhlin that her father has said: ‘You can have me as long as you like’. The husband, Sean (Andrew Bennett) is more reticent but slowly he builds a relationship with Cait as she becomes absorbed into the daily routine of the farm.

Away from her careworn mother, pregnant yet again whilst still having a baby in her arms, and her irresponsible father – he lost their red heifer in a card game, Cait blossoms.  Simple routines such as bath time, having her hair brushed with 100 strokes, helping fetch water from the well and feeding the animals, whilst being surrounded by warmth, lull Cait into a new sense of contentment.  She stops wetting the bed, her reading skills improve and she becomes alive as Sean encourages her to run faster and faster each day to collect the post from the post box.  The scenes of her running are delightful and capture the quiet girl filled with energy and joy.   

It’s a quiet and atmospheric film with beautiful shots of the countryside, the tree lined road Cait runs along each day, the sparkling well where they fetch water and even the milking parlour, which has to be carefully swept and cleaned  build a picture of the new experiences Cait encounters.

The peace is shattered by a nosey, spiteful neighbour, who questions Cait and provides shocking information about her temporary foster family.

It’s a bitter sweet film containing tragedy and sadness caused by neglect. However, it is also uplifting in showing how a child can flourish if given the opportunity to experience kindness and encouragement and learn lessons of life including: ‘Many’s the man lost much just because he missed a perfect opportunity to say nothing.’

Colm Bairéad has done a great job in creating this film from ‘Foster’ with the tricky challenge of seeing the world through the eyes of Cait.

It presents a snapshot of a summer that impacts on the right of passage for Cait and you are left hoping that her future will be happy and that the bond built with Eibhlin and Sean will last a lifetime.

The Quiet Girl is part of Glasgow Film Festival 2022. Showing at Glasgow Film Theatre 4/5 March

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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