IIt seems a modest little story at first, a cinematic wallflower content to cling to the corners of its tight, framed aspect ratio, rather than imposing itself on the audience. But at the same time The quiet girl, Colm Bairéad’s multi-award-winning Irish-language drama, may be small in scope, but it’s one of the most exquisitely made films of the year. There is a relationship with Céline Sciamma Little mom in the crystalline delicacy of the narration and its way of playing on the sensitive chord like a harp. It is also reminiscent of Lynne Ramsay’s early work – her feature debut, rat hunterand short film gas – in the way Kate McCullough’s curious camera latches on to small details that are magnified in a child’s eyes.
The quiet girl is Cáit (the remarkable Catherine Clinch), part of an ever-growing generation of neglected children on a poor smallholding in rural Ireland in the early 1980s. While her mother waits for yet another baby and her father lurking in the background as a tacit threat, Cáit is sent to distant relatives: the warm and wise Eibhlín (Carrie Crowley) immediately envelops her in love; Seán (Andrew Bennett) is taciturn and reserved but no less attached to the child. Under their care, Cáit thrives. “All you needed was a little attention,” says Eibhlín.
It’s an accomplished work from early feature director Bairéad, who quite rightly has a knack for telling us everything we need to know without words: a momentary stalemate stretched over sticks of rhubarb, for example, is more eloquent than pages of dialogue could ever be.