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MOVIES (GFF 2022): The Quiet Girl - Review

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Our location is Ireland 1981. Filmed, unlike that of most of its ilk, argely in the Gaelic language save for flashes of English deployed sparingly, Catherine Clinch stars as 9 year old Cáit, used to a life in poverty on the countryside. She’s an observer of the world around her but never says much – preferring to bask in the beauty of it all, lacking perhaps the affection from a parent that is expected – the small touches of her home life that we see paint it as a hostile place. It’s telling then, that she is sent to an older childless couple during the holidays and opens up to them – experiencing deep affection for the first time ever.

It's a harrowingly beautiful portrayal of Ireland with cinematographer Kate McCullough, responsible for the iconic Normal People tv series, taking time to showcase the rural elements of the country quite well. It looks beautiful and Colm Bairead manages to show a viewpoint of it all through the eyes of a child, keeping the drama largely at her level – always watchful, always observing – and Catherine Clinch’s performance is an impressive one considering how much Cáit is in this 94-minute film. The movie explores introversion, grief and parenthood – and we see the character arcs deployed marvellously around Cáit who has to learn to trust her stand-in replacement ‘parents’, and it’s not hard to get swept up in the emotions when the three eventually bond – it goes exactly where you expect it to go but that doesn’t stop it from being any less heartbreaking when that moment happens, refreshingly unshowing in its approach – largely kept minimalistic allowing the focus on the human storyline to be front and centre.

I really loved this one, in short – and you should check it out too. I imagine for someone who is Irish or has a deep connection with the country especially, it’ll hit all the more harder. Composer Stephen Rennicks, who worked on 2014’s Frank, gives a score that feels reminiscent of Max Richter with a solemn, yet emotionally grounded piece that is so crucial in making the more devastating moments work. Sure to be one of the breakout surprises of the cinema year.

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