12 May 2022, The Tablet

Truth without words

Truth without words

Carrie Crowley, left, and Catherine Clinch in Colm Bairéad’s tender debut feature


The Quiet Girl (An Cailín Ciúin)
Director: Colm Bairéad

Irish director Colm Bairéad’s delicately unsentimental debut feature, shot mainly in Gaelic, is deceptively simple. Set in rural Ireland over a single summer in 1981, it is adapted from Claire Keegan’s celebrated New Yorker short story, Foster.
Nine-year-old Cáit (Catherine Clinch) is resigned to her own helplessness in the face of indifferent and impoverished adults. She hardly speaks, wets the bed, is ignored by her siblings and does her best to remain invisible to her brutish Da (Michael Patric) and overwhelmed and neglectful Mam (Kate Nic Chonaonaigh).

When she absconds from school, her Da derisively calls her “the wanderer” and, as he drives her home, picking up a woman friend on the way, the lack of affect with which her wandering consciousness takes in trees, sky, the woman’s dangling earring or her Da’s cigarette butts is strikingly conveyed by Clinch’s expressive performance and Kate McCullough’s cinematography.


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