The Reel Review


An overcrowded, dysfunctional family struggling to make ends meet in 1981 Ireland sends their shy, badly neglected 9-year-old daughter to spend the summer with distant relatives who are still mourning the death many years ago of their young son on their farm. Experiencing parental love and affection for the first time, the quiet and withdrawn Cait finally starts to blossom, in this drama based on Claire Keegan’s 2010 short story “Foster.”

Catherine Clinch in The Quiet Girl

In his feature film debut, writer/director Colm Bairéad goes for the emotional jugular with a devastating, heartbreaking tale of neglect and abuse, juxtaposed to gorgeous views of the Irish countryside and a haunting, lyrical score. Catherine Clinch, in her film debut, is an absolute wonder as the shy, silent girl accustomed to being ignored by those around her and totally uncertain of whether her stay will be temporary or permanent. A couple of subtle but pivotal scenes involving bedwetting and a conversation about keeping secrets are the tells that Cait’s meanspirited father back home very likely has sexually abused her.

Carrie Crowley, Catherine Clinch and Andrew Bennett in The Quiet Girl

The pacing in The Quiet Girl is intentionally slow, requiring close attention to the subtle but deeply impactful moments – Cait’s new foster mother bathing her, brushing her hair and teaching her how to cook, and her new foster father bonding with her over daily farm chores, buying her dresses and a daily ritual retrieving the mail. All of it gradually leads Cait to discover that her new foster parents truly care about her, which allows her to open her heart to them. The gut punch of an ending will absolutely rip your heart out. An instant classic.


• The Quiet Girl was the first Irish language film nominated for an Oscar, in 2023 for Best International Feature Film, and is the most successful Irish language film ever made, earning more than $3.7 million worldwide.

Irish writer/director Colm Bairead

• Writer/director Colm Bairéad is best known as a documentary film maker. The Quiet Girl is his first feature film.

• The film starts and ends with the sound of a cuckoo, a bird known for some of its species laying its eggs in the nests of other bird species to be raised by them.


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  1. Dr. M. Jones-Ryan April 22, 2023

    There are not sufficient superlatives