Review: Ireland’s Oscar nominee ‘The Quiet Girl’ speaks volumes

Although gently and delicately restrained, “The Quiet Girl” managed to make a lot of noise. Cholm Bairéad’s small-scale drama, his directorial debut, is the highest-grossing Irish film of all time. He won “Belfast” at the Irish Film & Television Awards. And it has been nominated for the best international film at the Academy Awards, a first for Ireland.

It’s not hard to see why. Barrett’s sensitive and heartfelt film, which is being discussed in many theaters on Friday, is a moving testament to what is possible on a modest scale with a few well-chosen words. Set in rural Ireland in 1981, “The Quiet Girl” — a clever twist on the title of John Ford’s “The Quiet Man” — comes from Claire Keegan’s short story “Foster,” and preserves much of the rhythm and idiosyncrasy of the language. good short story.

Cait (Catherine Clinch, a sullen-looking newcomer) is 9 years old, a cacophonous and rough-and-tumble working-class classmate. Her mother (Kate Nic Conanoigh) is fed up with raising another child and another is on the way. Her grumpy father (Michael Patric) has given up tending their farm and spends most of his time drinking and gambling. Cait’s older sisters don’t have much affection for her, either. “Which one is she?” someone asks her father. “The scoff,” he cried.

To ease life at home, they send Cait to her mother’s cousin for the summer. The sisters do not bother to say goodbye. Her father peels off forgetting to even leave her bags. Cait hasn’t even met the couple who introduce her: Eibhlin and Sean Cinnsealach (Carrie Crowley and Andrew Bennett), an older couple who live a much more peaceful life on a sunny, tending farm. Eibhlin, played beautifully by Crowley, immediately warms to her.

“If there are secrets in a house, there is shame in that house,” she tells Cait. “There are no secrets in this house.”

Some things go unsaid. There is train wallpaper in the bedroom where Cait sleeps but there is no mention of them having a child. Sean is indifferent to Cait at first, and I wonder if here, again, is a father figure without any love for her. But the relationship gets the better of them and Cait falls into the daily routines of the farm and the quiet tranquility of their home. “The Quiet Girl” unfolds as a nurturing idyll that couldn’t be sweeter even though we know it can’t last forever. A calf is weaned on its mother’s milk, Cait is told, but then given powdered milk. Nourishment, for all creatures, can come from outside the home.

There’s a lot to soak up in “The Quiet Girl,” including Kate McCullough’s radiant cinematography and Emma Lowney’s elegant production design. Sensibility is always close at hand but never penetrates. Barréad puts the story out thoughtfully, adhering almost entirely to Cait’s point of view. As a portrait of a child’s resilience – and the damning view of adulthood that can be seen through young eyes – it could sit comfortably alongside “The Kid With a Bike” by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne.

“The Quiet Girl,” a Neon release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for some strong language and smoking.. In Irish Running time: 94 minutes Three and a half stars out of four.


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