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  • Writer's pictureDenise Breen

An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl) is a simple tale of love, beauty and redemption

5 out of 5

Set in early 1980s Ireland, An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl) follows Cáit, played by Caitríona Clinse, a young girl whose family send her to her mother’s cousin to be cared for while her mother has another baby. Her family are dysfunctional and she has a tough time in school. Her parents decide to send her to live with "her mother's people". These are Seán and Eibhlín Cinnsealach (Kinsella); a middle-aged couple she has never met. Slowly, in the care of this couple, Cáit blossoms and discovers a new way of living, but in this house where affection grows and there are meant to be no secrets, she discovers one.

First-time director Colm Bairéad has turned the novella "Foster" by Claire Keegan into a simple tale of humanity, of need, of grief and redemption. Catherine Clinch is a revelation as the title character and Carrie Crowley is her usual reliable self and Andrew Bennett in his role as the taciturn substitute father developing a relationship with Cait delivers a powerful emotional punch.

Well written, beautifully directed and sensitively performed, this ends up being a deeply moving film. Director Colm Bairéad keeps his nerve as far as pacing is concerned, and as a result I expect there'll be some who find this too slow-moving for their taste. But stay with it. It's worth it. Occasionally you come across a piece of cinema that leaves you stunned, buckled and undone; when performances and story, within a time and a place, just flow so elegantly and refined, against the most inelegant and unrefined backdrops.

If you have a heart, and a soul, an ounce of empathy, then prepare to be walloped by this heartfelt film. I've never been the kind of moviegoer who wonders what happens to the characters after the film has ended, but it's difficult not to speculate in that way after An Cailín Ciúin's extraordinary final moments.

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