The Quiet Girl Movie Review: Summer 1981

Little by little and steadily, ‘The Quiet Girl’ has been establishing itself, in its own right, as one of the fundamental titles of the 2022-2023 awards race. Since it won the Crystal Bear for best film in the Generation of ’72 category at the Berlin Festival, its recognition has been on the rise. Before its two BAFTA nominations and being nominated for the Oscar for best international film, the debut feature by Irish director Colm Bairéad She was one of the main winners of the 67 Seminci in Valladolid, where she managed to get the Silver Spike; in addition to obtaining the FIPRESCI Award and the Audience Award.

The Quie Girl

Set in the summer of 1981 in a small Irish town, it tells how Cáit, a reserved girl of just nine years old and daughter of an excessively large family, is sent to spend the summer season with a distant cousin, now retired, from her mother, Eibhlín, who lives alone with her husband, Seán, after losing her son years ago. The reason is that her mother is pregnant again. Bairéad thus adapts the short story ‘Foster’, by Claire Keegan. She does it in Irish, which not only allows her to represent Ireland at the Oscars in the category of best international film, but also adds that sense of rustic atmosphere that delves into the social spirit of the film.

In fact, initially, the way Bairéad, who also signs the script, begins his proposal is similar to a fable, as if it were a kind of realistic version of ‘The Secret Garden’, with a girl protagonist, who barely speaks and who has a terrible feeling of loneliness. Bairéad emphasizes this lack of affection, which gives the film a social dimension, which looks at childhood melancholy with respect and dignity. The filmmaker knows how to make a portrait of that youth abandoned to its fate which stands out in a reality in which the protagonist is one more daughter in a family in which her parents bring children into the world like someone who grows potatoes, forgetting that having children is a responsibility.

The Quiet Girl

A masterful debut, made with delicacy and intimacy

To this is added that Bairéad shows that family that one chooses, where that retired couple who lost their son years ago enters the scene. If Cáit’s story was already touching, with the fabulous interpretation of Catherine Clinch, who offers a restrained and austere performance reminiscent of that of Laia Artigas in ‘Summer 1993’ (thanks to a series of silences that do honor to the international title, since it says more for what it doesn’t say than for what it pronounces); the pain of that middle-aged marriage magnifies a delicate, intimate story, with protagonists who fully conquer the hearts of the public.

The Quiet Girl

Mention also to the technical care of the tape, with an exquisite photograph, the work of Kate McCullough, which combines the bucolic nature of the countryside with the leisurely rhythm that matches the reserved character of its protagonist, who when he speaks, his dialogues are direct and concise. Also for that production design and art direction, signed by Emma Lowney and Neill Treacy, which bring a more social 80s spirit, reminiscent of the works of that decade and the later ones of Ken Loach or Mike Leighfrom a more rural perspective. Applause for a very careful editing, the work of John Murphy, with which he shows his mastery of the tempos of a tape that does not decay at any time.

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‘The Quiet Girl’ is a beautiful debut, which offers a careful portrait of rural Ireland in the 80s, far from nostalgia and artifice. A feature film with which Bairéad shows a sublime pulse when it comes to transmitting feelings or sensations. Catherine Clinch joins that group of children who have offered masterful performances on the big screen Frankie Corio in ‘Aftersun’, Eden Dambrine and Gustav De Waele in ‘Close’, Carla Quílez in ‘La maternal’ or Maya Vanderbeque in ‘A small world’. A story that leaves that feeling of having seen something intimate, that reminds us of the importance of caring for children. and treat, above all, his loneliness. One of the best feature films of this 2023 that has not even reached its first quarter yet.

Note: 9

The best: The moments of silence, the interpretation of Catherine Clinch, her careful photography.

Worst: That his career in the awards has been overshadowed by ‘All Quiet on the Front’ or ‘Argentina, 1985’, two correct feature films, but tremendously academic.

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