Skip to main content
film review

In the Irish film the Quiet Girl, a girl (Catherine Clinch) is sent away from her dysfunctional family to live with foster parents for the summer. She blossoms in their care, but in this house where there are meant to be no secrets, she discovers one.Elevation Pictures

The Quiet Girl

Directed by Colm Bairead

Written by Colm Bairead and Claire Keegan

Starring Catherine Clinch, Carrie Crowley and Andrew Bennett

Classification PG; 94 minutes

Opens in select theatres March 3

Critic’s Pick

A movie steeped in the profound nature of childhood observation, The Quiet Girl (Irish title: Cailin Ciuin) is more than deserving of its Best International Feature Oscar nomination (the first such nod for an Irish-language film). Adapted from Foster, Claire Keegan’s 2015 award-winning short story, and directed by Colm Bairead, the film follows nine-year-old Cait (Catherine Clinch) through the summer she spends with middle-aged relatives (Carrie Crowley and Andrew Bennett) in 1981 after her neglectful parents send her away.

Having survived the chaos and apathy of home by making herself barely seen or heard, Cait’s view of her world is the sole narrative we glean. From this, we witness the cavalier cruelty of her alcoholic father to the frustration of her pregnant mother who lacks the emotional bandwidth to engage or empathize. But it’s through Cait’s wide-eyed lens that we also experience the effects of unconditional love and kindness: Through the efforts of her extended family, Cait’s world melts into one free of pain.

It’s a beautiful thing to watch a child realize they’re worth something, and equally heartbreaking to reconcile that, until a specific point, they thought the opposite. Through heart-wrenching, nuanced and arresting performances by Clinch, Crowley and Bennett, The Quiet Girl technically lives up to its name, but speaks volumes about the transformative power of what it means to be loved.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Plan your screen time with the weekly What to Watch newsletter. Sign up today.