IT took me some contemplation to change my mind about how good The Quiet Girl was.
My original thoughts were of lack of climax or of a point, with expectations of most dark story telling. However, like a flower opening, a different meaning slowly emerged.
Colm Bairead directs this mostly Gaelic movie with some English subtitles and superb cinematography in the beautiful green countryside of Waterford, Ireland.
Set against the grim backdrop of an impoverished family home, Cait, (Catherine Clinch) a 10-year-old sister to four other siblings, is sent to stay with her mother’s cousin Eibhlin, (Carrie Crowley) as her oppressed mother (Kate Nic Chonaonaigh) waits for the birth of another baby.
Cait struggles at school and is seen as an invisible child; the opening scene has her hiding in the tall grasses. This alone evokes a grisly beginning to the movie where you think of Lovely Bones (2009) and a child’s body is going to be found.
The story unravels to show the frustrating life where fear is instilled into the family by the implied abusive father (Michael Patric), who would rather spend time at the pub, wasting family funds drinking, smoking and gambling instead of being engaged with his family life and enjoying his wife and children’s company.
Eibhlin, an elegant and attentive woman and her husband Sean, (Andrew Bennett) a more loving couple who have their own sadness but no secrets, embrace Cait into their home for the summer.
It takes a while for Sean to warm to Cait, but the relationship beautifully develops between all three.
While wondering how to cope without her siblings and why she was left so easily by her father, Cait settles into the new routine and begins to blossom with some wise words and loving attention from her temporary parents.
Comparisons of the two families can’t be ignored. When you see her thriving under love and attention, she seems more suited to this new family and interestingly similarities are drawn to the book she learns to read, Heidi, a child who is sent away to live with her grandfather.
Just when you think the climax of the movie is about to ominously happen, this gentle tale does not show any violence or foreboding fear instead a tear is shed at the end with a touching reunion, where you’re left wondering what will happen next.
FILMS with PAULA HOLLAND