The Quiet Girl ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali
Rural Ireland, 1981. A quiet, neglected girl is sent away from her dysfunctional family to live with foster parents for the summer. She blossoms in their care, but in this house where there are meant to be no secrets, she discovers one. Out in selected cinemas and can be watched online on the Curzon website.
The quiet girl at the centre of this story is indeed… well, quiet, just like the film itself, which clearly proves that you don’t have to shout to strike a chord.
And so in a month packed with hyperbolic movies about “multiverses”, flashy fights between wizard and superheroes, idiotic horror remakes, bloody revenge epics, treasure-hunting capers, wartime dramas, self-referential comedies, the film that touched me the most is actually one of the simplest: one made of silences, quiet stares and untold truths. Its beauty lies in its simplicity and its power in those unspoken truths.
The film was the first Irish language film to be screened at the Berlin International Film Festival and was honoured with the Grand Prix of the Generation Kplus International Jury. It also won seven awards at the Irish Film and Television Awards, including Best film, Best director (Colm Bairéad) and Best cinematography (Kate McCullough).
Despite all the (deserved) accolades, and my five-stars, I’m very aware that this is an art-house film might not be for everyone’s taste, but if you’re willing to let it sink into you and if you get into the right frame of mind (it is a slow and quiet film), this is actually one of the most exquisite, gentle and moving things I’ve seen all year.
The story itself could be written on the back of stamp, that’s how basic it is. First published in the New Yorker in 2010 and later expanded into a novella by Claire Keegan, The Quiet Girl tells of a 10 year-old girl called Cáit from a “troubled” family in rural Ireland in the1980s.
She is sent to live with her relatives at an old farm for the summer, while the mother gives birth to yet another child. In the new (much quieter) home, she will experience kindness, care and love for the first time in her life.
This is a film driven by emotions (mostly repressed ones) rather than a plot. A film where images and background sounds effortlessly work together to create a unique atmosphere which ends up weighing more than the dialogue itself.
It seems to do so little and yet it sensitively and subtly builds to deeply moving ending, which took me by surprise, not so much because of what happened, but because how beautifully and gently it took me to that place where I found myself in tears, without even realising and understanding how the film could have worked its magic on me.
Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick
The Quiet Girl is out in selected cinemas and can be watched online on the Curzon website.
See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali
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