Movie Review: The Quiet Girl

There are a number of films that are titled “Irish” as well as there are a lot of films that are actually from Ireland. People have an idealized and fabricated conception of what an accurate portrayal of Ireland should look like on film and how its inhabitants should behave. It’s possible that it goes as far back as John Ford’s The Quiet Man, or it might be that more modern romances like Wild Mountain Thyme are to blame for creating a caricature of Ireland for everyone’s benefit except for the Irish people themselves.

When it comes to Irish cinema, authenticity has traditionally been something of a contentious issue, but there is no room for debate when it comes to An Cailn Ciin (The Quiet Girl). Colm Bairéad, the film’s director, does not make any attempt to romanticize the location or the people who live there, nor does he portray anything in a tidy, packaged fashion designed to entice viewers from other countries to plan their next vacation there.

The Quiet Girl Trailer


In the first place, it’s an accurate version of the novella Foster which was written by Claire Keegan. There are no unexpected developments or turns of events. There is no one who can be called the unambiguous hero or villain. It is a narrative about family, both biological and discovered, and the painful confrontation that one must have with themselves when one chooses one family over the other.

Cáit, sometimes known as Catherine Clinch, is the developing middle child of a family of five. Her mother is now breastfeeding a toddler and tending to four other children while she is also expecting another kid. Cáit is reticent and makes an effort to avoid getting into difficulty; but, despite her best efforts, she consistently gets into bother due to the fact that she wets the bed, is harassed at school and is ignored by her father (and she isn’t the only one).

She is shipped off to spend the summer with her mother’s cousin and her husband so that the family may save money and focus their attention elsewhere. If this were a narrative written by Roald Dahl, you could anticipate either a hairy and revolting pair who want to fatten her up to devour or an angelic mother figure who bakes fresh cookies every day. Both of these scenarios are possible. Yet, this is not a tale written by Roald Dahl. This is without a doubt one of the most genuine, organic, and visually stunning Irish films that has ever been filmed.

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Cáit comes to Eibhlin (Carrie Crowley) and Seán Kinsella’s house, unaware of the life and home that awaits her for the next several months. Seán is played by Andrew Bennett. Cáit is clueless. It can appear unimpressive to others, but when placed next to Cáit’s childhood house, it looks like a castle. Eibhlin is neither unfriendly nor imposing in any way.

The absence of characters that are portrayed in a caricature-like manner is one of the most notable and significant characteristics of the movie. Eibhlin is a logical and thought-provoking individual. When Cait wets the bed, she is not comforted by her mother; instead, she is told that the mattress has been weeping again, and she is sent to get the sheets washed as she hardly looks at her daughter.

While not in the same manner, Seán likewise gives Cáit only a fleeting glance. Bennett makes sure that we are aware that the reason he distances himself from her is not that he wants to, but rather because he considers it to be necessary. Even though the house is said to be haunted by something, Cáit continues to see it as her safe haven.

The film has a number of references to Irish culture, although they are never presented in a manner that generalizes Irish society. The fact that there are so many members of Cáit’s family to support financially is a direct result of the limited availability of methods of birth control in that era. Although the Kinsellas aren’t seen attending Mass except when it’s for a funeral, there is still a picture of Jesus Christ hanging in the kitchen, just like there is in virtually every other Catholic home in the United States.

A nosy neighbor offers to take Cáit out for the evening, but her main intention is to chitchat about her new parental figures and to try to get information from Cáit on the lifestyle of the Kinsellas and Eibhlin’s culinary techniques. During an interview with Collider, Bairéad talked about making these trademarks more subtle. She said, “I think the existence of that things is still to be felt there for people who have this type of awareness and the sort of sensitivity for that detail.”

In spite of this, the movie isn’t completely incomprehensible to those who aren’t especially knowledgeable about Ireland or the period in question. One might get the sense that there is something that is shared by everybody. The topics of love, grief, and family are all investigated, but not in the traditional manner that we are accustomed to seeing in narrative feature films.

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These seemingly little dialogues between characters really have much deeper meanings. It is possible that you will need to look more attentively for them, but if you do discover them, they have a strong impact. This is mostly owing to the soft yet tight grasp that Bairéad has on the direction.

Although Catherine Clinch has very little to say in the film, she manages to steal the show with her thoughtful and nuanced performance as the lead character, and it’s hard to think that this is only her first acting job. She never allows Cáit to get away from her, not even for a second. Cáit is a youngster with profound emotions, despite the fact that she is very reserved. Not only does Clinch bring her character, but also the whole movie, to vibrant life with her performance.

The movements of Cáit’s lips and the position of her eye line provide clues that help us piece together what emotions and thoughts Cáit is experiencing. The picture revolves around Carrie Crowley, who serves as its throbbing heart. You must be aware that she always has the want to say more than she really does and that she has the need to exhibit more affection than she believes she is capable of.

As I previously mentioned, there is a ghost that can be seen throughout both the house and the movie, and it is quite evident that Eibhlin is still affected by it. Andrew Bennett delivers one of the quietest performances of the year, playing the aloof but eventually doting and loving father to such a pitch-perfect note in what is widely regarded as one of the best roles of the year.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the movie is watching the progression of Seán and Cáit’s friendship from nonexistent to lighthearted delight on the farm to absolute love and protection for one another. The Kimberley cookie, a ginger-flavored goodie that has been a household favorite in Irish homes for decades, takes the place of an olive branch in this Irish tradition. It was at this time that I found myself sobbing uncontrollably.

An Cailn Ciin, its director, and its actors all have an innate understanding that there is the power to be found in the mundane events that occur throughout the film. Collider’s director Bairéad mentioned that one of his filming influences was Lenny Abrahamson, and the influence is unmistakable. If you liked the subtlety, intimacy, and speed of Normal People or Room, or his previous picture, Grarage, which was criminally underseen, you will adore everything in An Cailn Ciin.

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Bairéad gives us access to some of the most private and intimate moments that take place in a house and among a family. We watch as Eibhlin gives Cáit a bath, as a couple struggles to come to terms with their pain and loss, and as a once-shattered family begins to slowly but surely mend itself. You will get the distinct impression that you have been transported into the Kinsella family’s living room on more than one occasion, and the characters will feel very real to you as well.

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It’s a breath of fresh air to watch a movie that isn’t afraid to tackle some of the most private and sensitive problems that people struggle with on a daily basis, and that does so without feeling the need to blow things up to fit the scale of the cinematic medium. Even though there isn’t a major reveal (except for one that occurs in the middle of the film, but even that isn’t so dramatic), you feel as though you’ve learned a great deal about these characters despite not having that information spoon-fed to you throughout the course of the film’s duration of 90 minutes.

One of the most insightful and profound reflections on childhood, family, and love is found in “An Cailn Ciin.” The last scene manages to be both heartwarming and heartbreaking all at once. Without giving anything away, and despite the fact that the following statement may sound trite, we come to the conclusion that it does not matter where Cáit ends up.

This is because we are aware that she has achieved everything she has ever sought out during the course of the journey, and as a result, she will never struggle again. You shouldn’t be shocked if, after you’ve done wiping away your tears during the movie, you feel prompted to call the people who helped raise you or had a great influence on you when you were a youngster and express your gratitude to them.