Cait (Catherine Clinch) is a quiet and introverted nine year old who lives with her family in the Irish countryside. She is by nature a loner who has created her own private world in nature. Her pregnant mother (Kate Nic Chonaonaigh) and impatient father (Michael Patric) have their hands full raising their other children. They decide to send Cait away to stay for the summer with her mother’s people who live on a dairy farm.
Suddenly this lonely and passive little girl is liberated from the habit of hiding from her mother under her bed after she has wet it during the night. She escapes from school, where she is a slow reader and is labeled a “weirdo” by her classmates. At the farm, Cait is showered with attention and lavished with praise by Eibhlin (Carrie Crowley) whose nurturing and kindness touches her heart and senses. The simple acts of bathing, having her hair brushed, and getting new clothes lift the little girl’s spirit.
The Quiet Girl, Ireland’s entry for the Oscar for Best International Feature, is a beautifully paced and emotionally rich drama directed by Colm Bairead. It is based on a novella “Foster” written by Claire Keegan.
Cait’s silence takes the soft-spoken farm couple some time to get used to, but they gave the girl space and she gradually adapts herself to the rhythms and routines of their life. While Eibhlin teaches her the rudiments of cooking, her husband Sean (Andrew Bennett) gently trains Cait in farm chores and, in a surprising sequence, challenges her to learn the physical pleasure of running.
By summer’s end, Cait has learned to trust and love these kind people, and when a secret is revealed that could shatter their relationship, she proves that she can be as compassionate and caring as they are.
Few films these days choose to focus on the characters’ kindness, compassion, and nurturing. The Quiet Girl is a very special coming-of-age drama graced with a captivating performance by Catherine Clinch.