Adapted from Claire Keegan’s acclaimed story, Foster, An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl) tells the story of Cáit, a nine-year-old girl from a dysfunctional family. Sent to live with foster parents for the summer, she forms a bond with Eibhlín, but her relationship with man of the house Seán feels strained. Told through the eyes of its young protagonist, Colm Bairéad’s coming-of-age drama explores the meaning of family. 

  • Year: 2021
  • Runtime: 95 minutes
  • Language: Irish (English Subititles)
  • Country: Ireland
  • Director: Colm Bairéad
  • Cast: Carrie Crowley, Andrew Bennett, Catherine Clinch, kate Nic Chonaonaingh

Review by Adelaide Kane

An Cailín Ciúin is a heartfelt rendition of Claire Keegan’s novella, Foster. Set in rural Wexford, this Irish language adaptation follows Cáit (Catherine Clinch), a young girl who is sent to stay with an older couple for the Summer. Away from her oppressive father (Michael Patric) and siblings that she never seems to get on with, she bonds with the Cinnsealachs (Carrie Crowley and Andrew Bennett) in a way she hadn’t with anyone else before.

Colm Bairéad navigates the importance of parental figures, without emphasis on blood relation, through the lens of a young girl who doesn’t have much to say. Catherine Clinch manages to express the thoughts of her character through her actions and simple looks, giving a homely feel to her developing relationship with the Cinnsealachs.

Review by Benedict Hudson

An Cailín Ciúin or The Quiet Girl is an Irish film directed by Colm Bairéad and stars Catherine Clinch, Carrie Crowley, and Andrew Bennett. It follows a reserved child, Cáit, who is sent by her family to her foster parents for a summer.

The film deals masterfully with themes of grief and familial love and tells an at times uplifting story that has a melancholic cloud hanging over it. The performance from Catherine Clinch as Cáit is central to the film’s emotional core being as effective as it is, and her acting ability is very impressive for an actress of her age. The film’s cinematography is simple yet beautiful, as is its use of color, which is a perfect fit for the rural setting that most of the film takes place in.

The slower pace that the film moves at helps to naturally develop its characters and makes the turns throughout, including one twist in particular, very emotionally impactful. An Cailín Ciúin is overall a beautifully crafted film.

Review by Brian Griffin

It’s been too long since there has been a movie that has rural Ireland at its core, nevermind one that uses Irish as its prominent language throughout. Can An Cailín Ciúin be the movie to begin a trend of movies as Gaeilge? 

An Cailín Ciúin tells the story of Cáit(played by Catherine Clinch), who is a quiet, neglected girl that is sent away from home to live with Eibhlín(played by Carrie Crowley) and Seán(played by Andrew Bennett) in the summer of 1981. Cáit has to learn to adapt to life on a farm in rural Ireland, and in doing so learns of a dark secret about her foster parents and past. 

The best aspect of An Cailín Ciúin is the care it takes in portraying a real Irish countryside, rather than a romanticised one akin to its Hollywood counterparts. The people feel accurate to what you might see in your average rural village or town, with a caring element but also a deep nosiness that has always been ripe in Irish culture.

On a more emotional level, An Cailín Ciúin manages to create a sense of nervousness in the viewer every time Cáit’s father(played by Michael Patric) appears on screen. His drunk, yet stern figure will leave you on edge, but this is contrasted with the feeling of safety at Eibhlin and Sean’s. It isn’t often that you can really step into the shoes of your main character so quickly, and yet writer/director Colm Bairead manages to find a perfect balance.

An Cailín Ciúin also achieves beautiful cinematography of it’s rural setting, with cinematographer Kate McCullough creating a world with every single frame a potential postcard in waiting. Having worked on projects such as Normal People in the past, McCullough isn’t new to rural Ireland, with the movie feeling capturing the Irish homeliness throughout.

Having mentioned some already, it’s important to point out the great performances, as An Cailín Ciúin does have a small cast but each actor gives it their all. Special mention has to be made for Catherine Clinch in the lead role, who the story really depends on, and also has to carry most of the emotional weight. Meanwhile Carrie Crowley fits perfectly into the mammy role, with Andrew Bennett being the most accurate portrayal of an Irish farmer ever to be put to film. 

Lastly, An Cailín Ciúin does seem to sometimes suffer from a case of over-indulging itself on wanting to portray aspects of Irish life, that it deviates from the main story, and in doing so has to rely on some characters simply being a means of delivering exposition. One post wake conversation in particular is just a blast of exposition all in the name of a big reveal.

Overall An Cailín Ciúin creates a world that feels both real and inhabitable, and despite the odd over-indulgence, we get to step into the shoes of a girl that finds her voice in the home she deserves.

Review by Cian Griffin

An Cailín Ciúin is a real gem, exploring rural living in 1980s Ireland through the eyes of a shy young girl, Cait, who goes to live with an older couple over the summer. Simple and understated in all the best ways, the film manages to create an endearing story that will tug at the heart strings, anchored by strong performances. Young actress Catherine Clinch brilliantly navigates Cait’s emotional journey as she comes out of her shell and in a very dialogue light role, manages to capture a wide range of emotions on her beautifully expressive face, showcasing immense talent. Carrie Crowley as Eibhlin is the real stand out, crafting a layered and nuanced performance, full of brilliantly subtle moments while director Colm Bairead truly captures the beauty of the Irish landscape and the lush scenery.

Full of gorgeous intimate moments, this is sure to be one of the highlights of the festival.

A poignant, yet heart-warming slow burner about a young Irish girl in living in poverty. From director, Colm Bairead, An Cailin Ciuin tells a story about a little girl named Cait (Catherine Clinch), who is living in poverty in the countryside in 1980s Ireland. When things get a little too overwhelming and overly crowded for young Cait’s family at home, she is sent to live with an elderly and childless couple named Eibhlin (Carrie Crowley) and Sean (Andrew Bennett) for the summer holidays. It is here where Cait learns what it is like to be truly loved.

Review by Darragh Hynes

An Cailín Ciúin is a stunning tale with beautiful cinematography, strong acting performances from everyone involved and a powerful script that takes its time and allows its characters build at their own pace. The cinematography takes full advantage of its native Irish countryside setting and presents us with bright, yet emotional shots that manage to tell the story when there are scenes without dialogue. The use of lighting (for example, night-time scenes) helps convey the emotions the characters are feeling.

Speaking of which, the script demonstrates a strong narrative with a message about not needing to be related to someone to love them like one of your own. The dialogue felt natural and real. The majority of it is spoken through the Irish language with only a few conversations in English, but because it is very well-written, it never feels distracting when the adults speak in English.

The acting, particularly from the three main leads, was incredible. Catherine Clinch made the character of Cait her own. Although she didn’t speak that much in the first act (hence the title), everything about her performance was believable and tragic, with a sense of childhood innocence and wonder to her. After seeing this performance, it is clear that Clinch has a bright future ahead of her if she chooses to pursue acting. Both Andrew Bennett and particularly Carrie Crowley gave very loving performances as the couple who take Cait in.

Crowley’s performance as Eibhlin is very believable as a mother who originally was never meant to be, but still raising Cait like she was her own child. Part of that is also down to the chemistry Clinch and Crowley share together. Bennett’s Sean takes a little time to warm up to Cait, however that adds to his arc of learning to have a loving connection with someone other
than his wife.

With all of this praise, one minor flaw with film is, with its ninety-four-minute runtime, there were a couple of wide landscape shots that didn’t add to the plot or lingered on longer than they needed to. They certainly looked great, but would certain scenes have really been affected had they been cut? Not really.

Overall, An Cailín Ciúin is a great film to kick off the festival with, as it tells a compelling story about a young girl learning what it is like to truly be loved, with stunning cinematography and excellent acting performances!

Review by Ellie McCarthy

An adaptation of the book ‘Foster’ Directed by Colm Bairéad, A quiet, neglected girl the summer of 1981 is sent away from her dysfunctional family to live with foster parents for the summer. This was definitely my favourite film. I loved that it was as Gaeilge throughout as it can be a theme for many Irish films to transition into English. I thought Catherine Clinch the main actor who played Cáit, was incredibly talented. The choice of actors was great, I found everyone fit their roles incredibly well and they all had great chemistry. Carrie Crowley, the actor who played foster parent Eibhlín was the definite highlight for me. The way she had that motherly instinct convey so well over the screen was phenomenal. I loved that you knew how she was feeling in every scene without her having to say it. Bairéad was incredibly well at showing that there were secrets and that something was seriously wrong in a way that was artistically subtle. The cinematography was incredible. I loved the tint that the film had to it, everything was slightly warm in such a beautiful way. The film did not have that harsh lighting that Irish films tend to use so it was a very nice change. The scenes followed a pattern between the houses, but I still enjoyed them as they were all so visually appealing. The costumes were very good also I felt that fit the theme really well. I think from all three films this one had the best audio mix, dialogue and ending. The last scene in this film was the best. As someone who has read the original material it was identical to how I had pictured it. The final scene was the one that got me in the book and to have it replicated and done so well was really satisfying to see and I found that it worked a lot better in a visual form. The foster mother crying in the car was just so powerful to see that I found worked perfectly. The father was also incredibly convincing in his acting. He gave the audience that feeling of disgust and anger towards him in such a realistic way. The entire films relationships and conversations with each other are entirely the best aspect of the film. The nosey neighbour scenes show how well they swap from gentle to guarded. The complete difference in her old and new homes are so stark that from two lines of dialogue we can see how bad her old home was for her. The gentle nature of the foster father seeps through in such a beautiful way that I really enjoyed seeing develop. Overall this was my favourite film. I felt it had great pacing that showed the maturing of Cáit so well. The cinematography aided the scenes well as it was very well edited. The characters were the prime example of how good this film was and I thoroughly enjoyed watching how they all interacted with each other.

Review by Emily Macrander

Just like its protagonist, An Cailín Ciúin is a quiet film. And, indeed, it feels as if Colm Bairéad puts us right into the head of his young protagonist. The director achieves this by frequently adopting Cáit’s point of view whether this means framing the world from low angles as she would see it or focusing on the back of the head of a distant parent as they drive through the countryside. With its compassionate eye, the film never misses these little details.

Stronger on atmosphere than narrative, An Cailín Ciúin works best as a quiet observational piece and actually has little need for the plot twists its narrative undergoes. The film does an immaculate job at being observational but never distant and is a great example of the power of cinema to allow us to experience a slice of someone else’s life.

Review by Eoin O'Donnell

“You don’t have to say anything, always remember that… Many a person has missed the opportunity to say nothing, and lost much because of it”.

An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl) is a portrait of an Ireland gone by, a snapshot of rural life in the 1980s in a nation torn between identities. The film follows Cáit, a timid schoolgirl in a family struggling to care for its children, both financially and emotionally, as she’s sent to stay with her cousins for the Summer.

If it wasn’t clear, it’s an Irish film, with spoken dialogue almost entirely in the Irish language;it’s a rarity in modern cinema, but becoming increasingly common in recent years. It’s not superficial either, or simply a translation of a story which could’ve been told through any other language, because in many ways, it’s a film about the Irish language. The film of course uses the language’s poetic and literary beauty to full effect, but it also carries significant narrative and thematic weight.

Cáit’s father, an uncaring and largely ignorant man with little care for his daughter or seemingly anybody else, is one of the only non-Irish speakers in the film. Played perfectly by Michael Patric, his gruff, angry bursts of English are unnatural and foreign amidst the calmness of the Irish-speakers. Language here is used almost as a litmus test for a character’s care and honesty; shop attendants heap on inauthentic compliments, and radio bulletins and TV broadcasts in English almost cut through the serenity of the newfound family’s conversation.

In her debut performance, Catherine Clinch is restrained and genuine, while Carrie Crowley and Andrew Bennet are terrific as Cáit’s newfound guardians. We learn that they each have their own reasons to be wary of growing attached to one another, but watching their relationship unfold is as wholesome as it is heart-wrenching.

Colm Bairéad wrote and directed the film, and his affection for his country’s beauty is clear. Lavish landscapes are stunning in their presentation, Cáit often just a speck in the middle of a sea of green, and the film’s aspect ratio creates a trapped in time feeling. It’s an achingly authentic portrayal of a time gone by, though there are more than a few moments where it could just as easily be a picture of Ireland today.

That goes not just for the images of untouched countryside, but also for the attitudes of its people- invasive neighbours, cruel gossip and painfully awkward small talk are still startlingly familiar among certain generations in Ireland. Everything from the nation’s gambling culture to its tenuous relationship with drinking gets a moment in the spotlight, making it clear that not all of our woes were left in the past.

Like Cáit, the film is patient and restrained, saving its heavier themes and messages for the moments they’re needed. While it’s not for everyone, and it could certainly be argued that An Cailín Ciúin doesn’t tread on any new ground in its coming-of-age tale, it serves a people who have likely felt underrepresented by their own nation’s cinema for far too long.

Review by Gabriel Galway

An Cailín Cúin, is the truest and most honest depiction of traditional Irish life to its core, as you could ever get. This movie will melt your heart many times over as you discover, through the eyes and ears of the young girl, Cáit (Catherine Clinch), the beautiful wonders and cruelties that make Ireland what it is.

Not only is this movie visually stunning in its clever use of framing, sunshine and the colour green, but in it’s ingenious use of sound, as we discover the world through a child’s perspective. This movie will truly immerse you and make you feel like you are discovering all of Ireland’s treasures, for the very first time; like the freshly poured fizz of red lemonade.

We discover Cáit’s world, through all of her senses, and sound is forever present in this movie. Director Colm Bairéad, has an amazing way of making a space feel silent and lonely by filling it with an orchestra of ambiance. From a cooing baby to the buttering of toast or the whistling of a kettle and a crackling fire. This movie is never silent and yet is one of the quietest movies you will ever watch.

Every home in this movie is a character and will completely submerge you in their immersion. The acting in this movie is impeccable, but I have to say that Andrew Bennett (Seán), steals the show with a slow burning performance that will steal your heart. The movie’s low key and bittersweet humour encaptures Ireland’s slow and slight way of life perfectly. The Irish can come across as being rugged or closed off but we can be quite acute when we want to be. In a similar way, this movie, and Andrew Bennett’s performance particularly, will tug on your heartstrings in the littlest of ways, leaving your tear ducts running.

An Cailín Cúin, tells a beautiful coming of age story set in rural Ireland, that explores the concept of the home and family, and what makes those things what they are. This movie tells so much with such few words, but leaves it to the sounds, visuals and impeccable acting to steal your heart away. Andrew Bennett, and his entire crew, have captured Ireland’s heart and soul in this movie and you’ll be hard pushed to find a competitor that rivals such a feat.

An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl) is a feature film adapted and directed by Colm Bairéad. Set in 1981 in Rural Ireland, we follow Cait (played by the astounding Catherine Clinch) who is a young girl from a flawed, defective family. Cait is sent away to live with a foster family for the summer. Eibhlin (Carrie Crowley) and Seán (Andrew Bennett) treat Cait with the love and tenderness she so desperately needed. Eibhlin makes it clear that their house is without secrets, where honesty is everything. Throughout the film, it becomes apparent this honesty is not a two-way street. Secrets a plenty hide within!

Review by Jamie Waddell

An Cailín Ciúin is a story of love, loss and the fact that time is the greatest healer. Colm Bairéad is strongly committed to highlighting and using the Irish Gaelic Language in his various projects. While many directors may fear using mostly Gaelic in their first widely released feature film, Colm finds a beautifully poignant use of the language that truly enhances the story.

Cait and her mother used Gaelic in their home life, so does her foster family when she moves in with them for the summer. However, reminiscent of scenes in Jean-Luc Goddard’s Contempt, when her father stumbles across the threshold after a night on the town, they begin to speak in English. Bairéad treats the Irish Language as a gift, a secret skill only a select few have the honour of understanding. Before she was quiet, but when she finds comfort and solace in Gaelic, the true gift with which she has been given begins to flourish. Similar to Lulu Wang’s The Farewell, communicating in secret will only lead to problems, as happens to Cait and her foster parents.

The devil is in the detail for Bairéad in visual communication. We find Cait at the start of the film as the titular Quiet Girl. She is almost mute, barely speaking to anyone at school or at home. Meek and mild, she is not getting the support she needs and this leads to her feeling trapped. This feeling of claustrophobia is illustrated ingeniously by Bairéad use of aspect ratio. At the beginning of the film, the film is using a square, tight 4:3 aspect ratio alongside a darker colour palate. Washed of colour and boxed in, this perfectly highlights the bleak situation Cait finds herself in. 

Once Cait leaves her house for the summer, the colours slowly starts to flow back into the picture. The red of the autumnal leaves become much more pronounced and even the aspect ratio begins to widen to a 16:9. Small smart cues elevate the story and make the themes more prominent.

An Cailín Ciúin is a wonderful film with a lot of heart. A small insular story that tells a story of a girl finding love and acceptance for who she is. Highlighting the importance and beauty of the Irish language for a mass audience, this film could have lasting significance well beyond its theatre run.

Review by John Brady

‘An Cailín Ciúin’ is a very confident film. Writer/director Colm Bairéad has no issue with taking his time. Making every beat of the protagonist's journey matter. It's opening establishes a quiet girl (Cáit) unhappy with her situation in life, desperate for a connection. Bairéad's sharp screenplay commits to telling the story solely through this little girl's eyes. Details of her life are revealed to us in pieces. Everything is shown to us from a distance because this little girl doesn't feel comfortable getting close to people. On paper, this should all be a bit monotonous. However, it is the execution that makes it work.

Bairéad commits to the screenpla.s focus on perspective in his direction. This allows for a fresh approach to visual storytelling. One of the first scenes in the film depicts our protagonist being driven to the countryside to stay with another family for the summer. In this scene, the camera focuses on random, small details, lingering on them for a peculiar amount of time. For example, her father’s improvised ashtray.

This allows the necessary exposition to occur, ie. Cáit's father is not an appealing man. While the strange manner in which it is presented allows us to see it through the wandering mind of a child. 

Cinematographer Kate McCullough reinforces this mission statement. The lavish countryside is consistently draped in an impossibly golden sun. This shows the young girl's idealised view of the land. The excitement that escaping her ordinary life brings her. This rose tinted view of rural Ireland continues throughout. Such a focus on one girls’ perspective places a lot of importance on the performance of said girl.

So it’s a good thing that Catherine Clinch is a revelation. Cáit is not an expressive character. She doesn't talk much and it takes a long time for her to even react to anything. Yet Clinch finds a way to emote in the midst of these limitations. It's a sight to behold. 

Carrie Crowley and Andrew Bennett round out An Cailín Ciúin's holy trinity of perfect performances. Crowley is the most emotive of the three. Depicting a woman who can't contain her emotions, good or bad. This provides a strong contrast for the much more reserved Cáit. However, it is Andrew Bennet who, in my opinion emerges as the true star of the show. He delivers an incredibly subtle performance. He portrays so much with hesitant glances and laboured movements. His relationship with Cáit is the emotional core of the film. The solace they find in each other’s company is undoubtedly my favourite aspect of the film. ‘An Cailín Ciúin’ is full of excellent performances, engaging storytelling and efficient filmmaking. However, what really brings the film together is its emotional and thematic core. This is a film about lonely people facing their emotional baggage through human connection.

An expertly crafted, emotional tale that wears its Irish sensibilities like a badge of honour.

Quote: Ní ga duit e rud a rá

Review by Juliana Wong

An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl) tells the tale of Cáit (Catherine Clinch), a little girl from a dysfunctional family who is sent away to live with foster parents on an unexpected turn of events.

The new family's reaction is enthusiastic, although the husband, Seán (Andrew Bennett), appears distant. However, as time passes, he warms up to her, and they get closer. Life with the Kinsellas teaches Cáit that there is much more to life than she previously imagined. Even though there seemed to be no secrets in the new home, a bitter reality is revealed, which alters the main character's life.

An Cailín Ciúin is a story that not only acknowledges but also takes seriously a child's sentiments. Because the narrative is conveyed through the eyes of a young protagonist, the viewer can comprehend how she perceives the world and her feelings about family, neglect, and grief.

Review by Khushi Jain

Many a person missed the opportunity to say nothing and lost much because of it.

Words easily fall to their knees and it is in silence that powerful emotions bloom. The Quiet Girl is about Cáit (Catherine Clinch), a nine-year-old girl who envelops herself in these very silences and watches her childhood unfold. She is sent to live with foster parents for the summer and the film focuses on her movement from a stale, callous and tired domesticity to a loving and stable one.

Based on Claire Keegan’s short story Foster, this is Cáit’s fragile coming-of-age. The camera softens as it follows her gaze; poignantly lingering on spaces even after characters have left them and focusing on little things. The tenderness with which Colm Bairéad tells this story of family, love and grief is sure to leave hearts soaked and sobbing.

Review by Kieran Brennan

An Cailín Ciúin is the story of Cáit, a young girl coming from a neglectful and potentially abusive family, who spends a summer away with foster parents.

Though simple in its premise, writer and director Colm Bairéad brings a strong sense of Irish personality to this drama. The uniqueness of rural Ireland is shown in a realistic and relatable that feels grounded. Dialogue is sparse, but not a second of it is wasted, the characters are incredibly well defined and their changes throughout the story are well earned and effective.

On top of this, the film is gorgeous. With a subdued colour palette and 1:1 aspect ratio, every shot feels precise and as though it could be framed. Sound design is also top tier here, the ambiance of the soundscapes allow us to sit in the world as comfortably, or uncomfortably, as Bairéad wants us to be.

The future of Irish film is a bright one.

Review by Leone Wright

“An Cailín Ciúin” is a movie that will break and heal your heart repeatedly over the course of 95 beautiful minutes. Set in 1981 in Ireland in a home that’s struggling financially under the burden of too many kids with another on the way. Cáit, the protagonist of our story played by Catherine Clinch, has learned to be quiet to avoid her father’s addiction and rage. “An Cailín Ciúin” directly translated means “the quiet girl” and although that may seem like Cáit’s downfall, through carefully placed cameras you can see she knows much more than she lets on.

As a victim of abuse, she has found that her silence is her best way to avoid confrontation. After an unfortunate mishap involving stolen milk that results in a substantial spillage, we learn just how important it is to be kind. She passes one of her many sisters and their friends who are sadly not sympathetic to her embarrassment instead remarking “your sister’s such a weirdo”. This leads to a rather upset Cáit running off and earning the nickname “The Wanderer”.

Her father, played by Michael Patric, is less than pleased to have been called in to collect her after this incident. As she sits in the back of her car not daring to provoke her abusive father anymore, an eerie silence consumes the atmosphere. That is until they pick a woman up from the side of the road. Cáit is obviously intrigued and startled by the woman’s presence. The camera allows us more insight into her mind thanks to the beautiful cinematography by Kate McCullough. The camera focuses on the parts of the woman Cáit notices, while the dialogue written by Colm Bairéad allows us to understand what Cáit fails to. Cáit may be too young (age nine to be exact) to understand love or abuse but she still tries to learn and observe. Bairéad also shows great talent through his careful direction of characters.

Due to the financial instability experienced by Cáit’s family she is sent to live with foster parents for the summer. Unlike her father who is unable to speak the Irish language and even during one conversation with her mother refers to Irish speakers as “your people”, her foster parents speak fluent Irish. Their kindness is almost immediately evident through Éibhlín’s (played by Catherine
Crowley) actions, the most poignant of all being when she has to assure Cáit that “there are no secrets in this house. As the audience it is uncomfortable to realize the extent of abuse that existed previous to when we join her story, but it is rewarding to see Éibhlín’s character to show her extensive sympathy.

As an Irish woman I’m very proud of my language and culture, and seeing the Irish language used to tell a story without the language being the main focus is refreshing. This story would be enthralling in any language, but there is something so fitting about the Irish language and its subtle impact on this film.

Review by Nellie Warren

Colm Bairéad’s debut feature, “An Cailín Ciúin,” is a film that does not seek out unnecessary conflict and is all the better for it. It restrains itself from moments where conversations could turn unpleasant, or actions overdramatic, and instead revels in kindness and earnest forgiveness, all whilst remaining honest in its portrayal of a heart-rending situation.

Based off the short story “Foster,” by Claire Keegan, “An Cailín Ciúin,” is an Irish language feature set in rural Ireland, 1981. It follows Cáit, a young girl who is suffocated by her dysfunctional and seemingly affectionless household. While her mother is pregnant, she is sent away to live with relatives – an older couple. During her stay, Cáit and the couple develop a deep familial bond, which is truly comforting to watch. Although the pacing with this foster family initially feels a little off, the film truly finds its feet as it presses forward. The Irish and English language, which are both used throughout the runtime, mix in a very natural manner, and it is a joy to hear Irish spoken on screen, especially by characters who feel so grounded.

Despite this brief description, An Cailín Ciúin is not a solely happy film: in fact, ‘happy’ may at first seem too exuberant a word to be used in relation to this debut. The film is often quiet and very patient. Our titular cailín ciúin (the Irish for quiet girl) barely speaks throughout. However, some of the film’s kindest and most joyful moments come in silence. While the older woman of the couple takes an immediate shine to Cáit and has great sympathy for her situation, it’s her husband who seems more faraway, which is what makes the growing bond between him and Cáit so rewarding to watch, as it seems they have more in common than they know. It’s in their moments of silence that they show the most affection to each other – leaving Cáit a biscuit, or Cáit wordlessly helping him sweep up at the farm.

Though at first it seems that maybe Cáit’s quiet nature may be something the film seeks to fix, it is instead a bonding factor for her and her new father figure, who puts it excellently by saying, “She says as much as she needs to say. May there be many like her.”

Although this film is not quite for children, it is an important and rare message to send to young people - that shyness and sensitivity is not a flaw, but a gift. This notion is reflected in the delicate technicalities of the filmmaking: an often- warm colour palette, an either still or gliding camera, and gentle music.

“An Cailín Ciúin,” is a film that hinges not on unnecessary drama, but on the small and touching moments of familial love. It’s the sort of film we need more of – not just because it’s an Irish language feature, but also because it’s patient, and because it understands simple joys and quiet characters.

Review by Nicholas Keniry

A vivid adaptation of Claire Keegan’s novel “Foster”, An Cailín Cuín is a faithful love letter to rural Ireland’s complex beauty, pride and shame. Protagonist Cáit is sent away by her struggling, pregnant mother and dubiously capable father to live with her aunt and uncle, where she is treated like one of their own. Despite flourishing under their tender care, she quickly finds that there are, in fact, some secrets in this house. Viewers from a farming background will find nostalgia and nuance practically bursting from every frame, with what’s left unsaid being far more important than what is directly presented. The acting, editing and direction are all excellent, but a real highlight of the film is how cohesive and believable the set design and costuming are, allowing the other elements to really shine throughout the film.

Review by Ronan Watters

The title for this film may make audiences feel they have been been misled, but in all the right directions. It translates from Irish to English as The Quiet Girl, but there are many in this film that don’t say much at all. Some characters say more than others, and they have good reason to stay quiet.

Our main character, a nine-year-old girl named Cáit, is one of these people. She comes from an overcrowded home where silence and dysfunction rule. The father of the house is quiet for other reasons, which are hinted at through his indifference towards drink driving home with his daughter in the car.

Staying quiet is Cáit’s best option until it lands her in trouble at school. Cáit’s mother, who is expecting another child, decides to send her to live with her distant relatives, The Kinsella’s. Cáit doesn’t know when she’s going home, except that she’ll be with her relatives for the summer.

Here she receives the love and attention that was once foreign to her, first from Eibhlín, a caring mother figure. Her husband, Sean, initially seems uninterested and keeps the conversations short, but he eventually comes to develop a deep relationship with Cáit. To watch her blossom on screen is a magical experience.

An Cailín Ciúin shines in its subtly as a coming-of-age story. As an adaption of the short story Foster by Claire Keegan, Writer/director Colm Bairéad treats the materiel with empathy and maturity. The dysfunction of Cáit’s family life and the love she receives from her
relatives is never treated in a sentimental fashion. At first, I wondered why more screen time was given to Cáit’s father and his problems than her mother, but that is the power of the film.

Cáit’s mother doesn’t acknowledge her much, another form of neglect.The acting from Catherine Clinch as Cáit must be commended. We see the film completelythrough her eyes as she gives an almost effortless and empathetic performance. Carrie Crowley and Andrew Bennett deserve praise for their roles as Cáit’s headstrong relatives. The tone of the film is set by their performances, as quietness surrounding a tragedy leads to them all growing closer.

While the film has a good chunk of dialogue in natural Irish, it’s the visual storytelling that tells us so much more. The glum colours of Cáit’s home life are in sharp contrast with the bright and vibrant images we see as she grows more confident. The camera acts as Cáit’s eyes and emotions and tells us more than words ever could. The images are curious and inquisitive just like she is, the images as wide as her imagination.

An Cailín Ciúin is a powerful, subtle experience, beautifully told in Irish and image. Its power lies in its empathy for its characters, presenting the emotional growth of three people and how grief brings them together. It’s a gem of a film.

Review by Tess O'Regan

In this beautiful ode to found family writer/director Colm Bairéad captures a summer introverted child Cáit (Catherine Clinch) spends at her aunt and uncle’s farm in Waterford. Coming from a cold and neglectful home, Cáit is thrust into the care of loving Eibhlín (Carrie Crowley) and the reluctant– but still caring– Seán (Andrew Bennet). Crowley stands out, conveying both love and grief quietly and intricately.

Adapted from Claire Keegan’s Foster, this film is thoroughly Irish, examining the rural culture and society of the 1980s. Cinematographer Kate McCullough (Normal People) turns the Cinnsealach farm into an idyllic Eden (or “Tír na nÓg”, as Cáit calls it) with painterly shots and low key lighting. However, the lighting betrays the dark realities of these characters’s lives too.

Overall, the cleverly bilingual film reads (as Wordsworth would have put it) like ‘emotion recollected in tranquility’– true poetry.

Review by William Walsh

Based on Claire Keegan's critically acclaimed novella 'Foster', Colm Bairéad's An Cailín Ciúin is a story about Cáit, an introverted girl in 1980's Ireland who goes to live with a foster family over the summer, soon experiencing a new life that she couldn't have imagined with her other family, but not a life that is completely devoid of hardships or secrets. Bairéad’s previous work has been a mixture of television and documentaries, making An Cailín Ciúin a unique addition to his career.

An Cailín Ciúin is a film that is mainly told through Irish dialogue. In recent years we have seen an uptick in Irish films with mostly Irish dialogue: Some examples of this include Sean Breathnach's Foscadh and Tom Sullivan's Arracht. Therefore, Bairéad's film appears to be part of a very welcome trend in recent Irish cinema of promoting our own language through visual storytelling.

The film is interesting in how it uses its time period. While certain pieces of Irish media like Moone Boy have portrayed their time periods with a great sense of nostalgia, the time period of Bairéad's film is simply a way to contextualize the film's events. The film does adhere to accuracy with various elements like wallpaper, furniture and cars, yet they are not the focal point of this mellow coming-of age tale.

In this film that has many realistic performances within its small cast, the stand out is Carrie Crowley as Eibhlín the foster mother. I am sure some of you reading have had a family member as a child that always doted on you and called you 'pet'. Eibhlín is a character that is quite like those people you have met and Crowley portrays her excellently: Her soft tone of voice and concerned facial expressions fit the character very well. Catherine Clinch's screen debut performance as Cáit should also be commended, her subtle intonations and mannerisms really make her character feel real. The cinematography by Kate McCullough is also worthy of praise. Whether a scene takes place in perfect sunlight or darkness, she is able to take familiar locations like kitchens or bedrooms and make them visually appealing.

While I am not qualified to speak on the original novella as I have not read it, Colm Bairéad's adapted screenplay is effective in its telling of the story: Each character is interesting enough to where you only need small plot developments to keep you engaged in their lives. This is not to say that there are no emotionally intense moments, the ones we get are very well done.

In short, I would recommend you watch An Cailín Ciúin if you are in the mood for a well acted coming of age drama that will make you both sad and cheerful. I for one am excited to see how audiences react to this.

Review by Hazel O'Leary

At times, both a heart-warming and heart-breaking depiction of life in early 1980s rural Ireland, An Cailín Ciúin follows the story of Cáit, a young girl neglected by her overwhelmed and growing family. When sent to live with two older relatives, she finds herself in a world of care and affection she has never before experienced. Taking an introspective look into Irish culture of the early ‘80s, Bairéad gives us an evenhanded portrayal of Ireland through his characters, dichotomised by Cáit’s immediate, neglectful family and the relatives who take her in, treating her with great respect and tenderness.

From the first frame of An Cailín Ciúin, we are treated to stunning cinematography from Kate McCullough. Showcasing intricately beautiful shot compositions that flow together with deceptive effortlessness. Illustrating the natural beauty of the Irish countryside with dreamy landscape shots and showing the Irish countryside with a luminance that is not often showcased in film and bringing a refreshing change from the true-to-life, but, often dreary depictions of Ireland we are used to seeing. Cosy interior shots of the Kinsella house, put together with clear meticulous planning, perfectly illustrate it as the inviting and loving home Cáit is in desperate need of. McCullough shows off her skilful eye for atmosphere when Cáit makes a discovery about the couple with whom she is staying, this same, once charming space is transformed into a cold and disenchanted room with a simple change of angle and lighting.

Although the cinematography lends much to the beauty of this film, where the real heart of this film lies is in the stellar performances of the cast. Catherine Clinch in the role of Cáit gives a subdued performance of a fragile young girl slowly being coaxed out of her shell as Eibhlín, played by Carrie Crowley, perfectly embodies the role of a nurturing presence and mother-figure. Andrew Bennett, however, steals the show as Seán, the archetypal, closed-off man of the house. Throughout the film, revealing his soft-hearted nature and portraying it with both sensitivity and sincerity.

Perhaps lacking somewhat in story as not much in the film serves to drive the plot forward. It works more as a delicate character study than a plot-driven narrative. An Cailín Ciúin more than makes up for this lack of story in substance and style. In its short ninety-five minute runtime, Bairéad’s characters are fully formed and easily endear themselves to the audience. By the end of the film, I truly wished the best for each of these characters. The Irish language is brought to the forefront of the film, used not only to craft beautiful dialogue but also to bring a sense of intimacy to the dialogue between Cáit, Eibhlín and Seán.

With a unique and stylish approach to showcasing both the visual beauty of Ireland and the darker side of Irish culture, Bairéad’s love for both his country and his characters shines through in every frame and every scene of An Cailín Ciúin.

Review by Pia Roycroft

The film portrays a young girl named Cáit (Catherine Clinch), who is born into a stereotypical large Irish family. As a result of her neglect due to multitudes of siblings, Cáit misbehaves, but instead of rectifying the real issue, her parents send her away for the summer. In direct contrast to how her parents treat her, Cáit is finally shown the love and respect she deserves by her mother’s cousin Eibhlín(Carrie Crowley), however this love and respect comes from Eibhlín’s traumatic experiences, something Cáit has to come to terms with.

In contrast to many texts that reflect on the 80s with a nostalgic fondness, this film portrays it very critically, focusing on the financial instability of the times, a very fresh perspective. An Cailín Ciúin is realistic in its approach in depicting women’s struggles along with the age-old Irish solution of ignoring your problems instead of facing them.