Quiet Girl Review: Poignant, Powerful Oscar-Nominated Drama Is a Must-See
A standout from this year's awards show, "The Quiet Girl" is a heartfelt portrayal of family and sweet relationships that linger long after the credits are over.
Beneath the biggest and most talked about titles in every awards season, there are some truly incredible hidden gems that might slip through the roof. Director Colm Bairéad's The Quiet Girl may be far from underrated, but it's certainly a treasure. This beautifully understated film was nominated for Ireland's Oscar in the Best International Feature Film category, and for good reason. It's a title that sneaks into viewers with its simple, uncomplicated story and manages to leave a searing impact. A standout from this year's awards show, The Quiet Girl is a heartfelt portrayal of family and unexpected connections that linger long after the credits are over.
Nine-year-old Kate (Katherine Clinch) is viewed as a weirdo by those around her. Cait, one of many children in her extended family, is introverted and has a tendency to wet the bed. With her mother expecting another baby, Kate was sent to spend the summer with two distant relatives, kind-hearted Abline Kinsella (Carrie Crowley) and her taciturn Husband Sean (Andrew Bennett Andrew Bennett). Eibhlín welcomes Cait with open arms and pulls out old clothes from the closet, while Seán is less grateful for Cait's presence. However, authentic, A meaningful bond quickly forms between Cait and her adoptive parents, revealing a long-buried secret.
The Quiet Girl is a sparse work. Bairéad, who also wrote the screenplay (itself based on Claire Keegan's short story "Foster"), never puts too much dialogue or action into a scene. At first, this highlights Kate's loneliness. Bairéad sets the scene, even though she is seated among her siblings, she is distinctly isolated. Director of Photography Kate McCullough makes the most of the space with wide-angle, still shots that clearly reveal Kate's world. The juxtaposition of Cait’s home with the houses where Eibhlín and Seán live—one dark and cramped, the other bright and open—tells viewers which place brings more comfort to the eponymous heroine. Editor John Murphy pulls it all together, giving the impression of a distant childhood memory and evoking thoughts of another recent critical darling, Aftersun.
Still, "The Quiet Girl" is a very different film, although both films are underpinned by a fine performance by a young actor. Clinch makes his screen debut here, and it's impressive See how much she can do with so little. Kate doesn't always talk, but lets the actors convey her thoughts and feelings through body movements. Over the course of The Quiet Girl, she started opening up. It's worth noting, though, that the film's title never turns out to be inaccurate. Instead, Bairéad's message was that Kate's newfound comfort hadn't taken away her inherent shyness. Eibhlín and Seán accepted her for who she was, while her main family did not. Bairéad makes the development of Cait's relationship with the two adults organic and rewarding. There is no dramatic union, but a series of soft, poignant moments. Leave a cookie as a treat, an impromptu contest involving chores. The little things that make up the family life of a quiet life.
The most dramatic part of The Quiet Girl (besides a brief moment that could go in a potentially devastating direction) is Eibhlín and Seán's past, and the secret they've been keeping from Cait for some time. Bairéad didn't give the word up front, but when realized, it made several scenes fall into place like a puzzle. Eibhlin and Seán become Mature characters have weaknesses and needs, and it only strengthens their bond with Cait. The quiet girl builds up the relationship steadily until it ends with a hunch. The final scene has an ambiguous note that allows the audience to imagine what happens next.
Quiet Girl is so far from being a fancy drama that one gets the impression that it is trivial. Quite the opposite, in fact, its strength lies in the eclectic way it tells Kate's story. Like its protagonist, The Quiet Girl is quiet, sensitive, and not to be underestimated in the Oscar race. It reaffirms the idea that there is a place for everyone in this world. It's a comforting thought after recent years of uneasiness and disjointedness.
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