Nine-year-old Cait (Clinch) endures a bleak existence with her large family in rural Ireland, circa 1981. Her father (Patric) is a farmer but prefers to drink and gamble, while keeping his wife (Chonaonaigh) perpetually pregnant. Cait gets farmed out for the summer to her mother’s cousin Eibhlin (Crowley) and husband Sean (Bennett). There she experiences comfort and attention she’s never felt before. Later, we learn that Cait is filling a void left by a recent tragedy. Regardless, this is one summer she’ll never forget.
Bairead’s first feature is a stunning, sensitive drama, earning an Oscar nod for Best International Feature. Young Clinch is a marvel, transforming from a timid, unkempt creature into a shy but curious girl, open to the world. Among a solid cast, Bennett stands out as Sean, a gentle soul whose growing affection for Cait helps him heal from unbearable loss. Kate McCullough’s gorgeous cinematography is another plus, romancing the wild splendor of the Emerald Isle. The Irish Gaelic spoken throughout adds authenticity and flavor. “The Quiet Girl” actually has a lot to say, and we should watch and listen.