Wednesday, March 8, 2023

The hard life of a nine-year-old girl


Made in Irish Gaelic with subtitles, The Quiet Girl introduces us to a poor Irish family. Dad (Michael Patric) squanders the family's resources with a gambling habit. A weary Mom (Kate Nic Chonaonaigh) has trouble coping with a growing brood and is pregnant again. The kids go to school wearing dirty clothes. Out of this desperation, nine-year-old Cait (Catherine Clinch) is sent to live with one of Mom’s cousins and her husband (Carrie Crowley and Andrew Bennett). Unlike Cait’s family, her new caretakers seem to be living reasonably well. Although it takes time for Bennett’s character to soften, Cait finally learns something about how adults can love and nurture children. For the first time, she’s living in an environment that’s not emotionally impoverished.  Cait’s "new" family has had to cope with a deep grief of its own and the movie, like its characters, knows something about muted sorrow. Director Colm Bairead adapts a short story by Claire Keegan to beautiful effect. Blanching the story of melodrama, Bairead creates deep feeling for Cait’s loneliness and the natural inability of a nine-year-old to grasp a complicated situation. A quietly moving piece of Irish cinema, The Quiet Girl doesn’t wear its heart on its sleeve, but it sure as hell has one.


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