The Quiet Girl: Review

The Quiet Girl: Review

The Quiet Girl: Review. By Nick Boyd.

“The Quiet Girl” is a very gentle and understated, yet powerful coming-of-age movie about a nine-year-old Irish girl named Cáit (Catherine Clinch) who gets sent off to live with distant relatives over the summer because her parents are overwhelmed by poverty, chaos, and the birth of yet another baby.

Cáit is a shy girl who often goes unnoticed, though at the same time gets made fun of at school, a place she has come to dread.  She does not have any friends and seems to want, more than anything, to simply be loved. Yet, her household is a crowded one where individual attention from either her parents or siblings takes a backseat.  Her mother is in over her head – pregnant with four young children and her father is a gambler, alcoholic, and philanderer, largely ignoring his family members.  Much of the film’s meaning is shown, not through words, but through Cait’s quietly nuanced expressions and glances.



When it comes time for Cáit to go off with relatives, her parents show little emotion.  The new people whom she is to live with (husband and wife) are differing in their approach to her.  The wife Eibhlín (Carrie Crowley) is very welcoming and hospitable, while the husband Seán (Andrew Bennett) is much less so at least initially.  Eibhlín and Seán’s place is even more remote and rural than where Cáit had been living.  With Eibhlín, Cáit is able to find the motherly love that she did not have back home. 

And in time, as they work side by side on their routine farm chores, Seán warms up to her in a sweetly protective way; eventually, more embracing and kind than her own father.  In this pastoral land, Cáit has no interactions with any children her age.  She does, though, express a real sense of curiosity.  Free from any kind of judgment, we get the feeling that Cáit wishes she could stay here for as long as possible.

The film really shows a sense of realism as the girl adjusts to her surroundings and the relatives go about their day.  It is also beautifully shot.  My only criticism would be I wish it was not quite so slow.  Clinch, in her breakout role, gives a quietly strong, and naturalistic performance that speaks volumes, while Crowley and Bennett are powerful as the parent figures Cait has been yearning for.

While certainly an unsentimental coming-of-age portrait, the film’s emotions do steadily build for these three characters – Cáit, Eibhlín, and Seán.  The ending shows the effects of unconditional love; it is heartfelt and deeply moving, as is this entire film. 


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