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The Quiet Girl

The Quiet Girl -

This beautifully quaint drama from Ireland shows how a little love can go a long way. The titular girl is Cáit (Clinch), the middle child in a large dysfunctional family who has more than one reason to be the "quiet one." Not only is she bullied and misunderstood in school, but her home life is also not far removed from Harry Potter's at the Dursleys or Dawn's from Welcome to the Dollhouse. With another sibling on the way, her detached and alcoholic father (Patric) makes her stay at a cousins' dairy farm for the summer. Their treatment of Cáit could best be described as mixed at first, which is understandable when she discovers why.

A movie that could easily be a silent one - no pun intended - first-time director Bairéad lets the images do most of the talking in a way that values simplicity and elegance. A sudden cut to Cáit and her father at a dimly lit bar explains their relationship better than words ever could, for instance. There's another similar moment I won't say much more about other than it proves my opening statement, and the ending notwithstanding, it's likely to be the one you will recall the most. There's also the sweetly nostalgic vibe of the farm, whether it's how much the sunlight overwhelms - in a good way - each outdoor scene or the repeated shots of its landmarks like the well or the milking parlor. With each revisit to these places, you can almost hear the memories being etched into Cáit's mind. Clinch deserves praise for her work as Cáit, especially for how gradual she charts her long-time-coming growth. Cinematographer McCullough also deserves credit for keeping everything at Clinch's height so we feel like we're in her shoes. As for the ending, it not only pays off a memorable sequence, but also has just the right amount of ambiguity. It ends up being a movie bound to charm you with its optimism that it only takes a little love to make things better and that doing so is possible no matter what happened before.