The Quiet Girl
A beautiful and heartbreaking Irish drama

The Quiet Girl

Release Date: March 3, 2023
Runtime: 01:35
Rural Ireland 1981. A quiet, neglected girl 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.

A neglected girl stays with foster parents in rural Ireland throughout the summer of 1981 in . Cáit () is a soft-spoken nine-year-old girl who is neglected in her impoverished household by her mom () and dad (). Cáit is sent away to stay with cousin Eibhlín Cinnsealach () and her husband Seán () on their farm in Rinn Gaeltacht, County Waterford. During their time on the farm, Cáit learns what it's like to be loved while discovering a secret her foster parents kept.

The Quiet Girl Synopsis

The Quiet Girl (An Cailín Ciúin) is a drama written and directed by Colm Bairéad based on the 2010 novella “Foster” by Claire Keegan. One of the film's most notable elements is that most of the film's dialogue is in Irish Gaelic. The only significant English-speaking character is the protagonist, Cáit's father, who seems all too happy to leave her with distant relatives for the summer. When Cáit is left with Eibhlín and Seán Cinnsealach, she experiences nurturing that she never experienced at home, living in an impoverished household with multiple siblings.

My Thoughts on The Quiet Girl

On the surface, The Quiet Girl has a simple story of the titular girl finding love and care with her foster parents that she could not find at home. This results in the film being simultaneously beautiful and heartbreaking, particularly during the film's final minutes. Newcomer Catherine Clinch shines as Cáit, who evolves throughout the movie from a closed-off introvert to finally coming out of her shell.

Despite having a name in the language, shared by one of the protagonists, The Quiet Girl is, to my knowledge, the first Irish film I've seen told predominantly in the Irish Gaelic language. This reflects both the 1981 time period of the film and how Gaelic is still commonly spoken by people in County Waterford, where the film is set. However, the language also serves the plot of the film as Cáit's father only speaks in English, and he ends up being the most neglectful member of her family, telling Eibhlín and Seán that Cáit will “eat them out of house and home,” before driving away with her luggage still in the car.

A revelation made late in the film about Eibhlín and Seán helps explain why Cáit's staying with them has been so special. The disclosure also plays a role in a climatic sequence that results in fears that history may repeat itself. However, The Quiet Girl ends on a bittersweet note that will undoubtedly result in much shedding of tears.

Trailer for The Quiet Girl

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.