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CULTURE | 18-08-2023 13:49

Quiet girl in a noisy week

Award-winning film 'The Quiet Girl,' directed by Colm Bairéad, hits screens in Buenos Aires.

Last week may have been much more about loud politicians (one of them in particular louder than the others) than quiet girls but the award-winning Irish film The Quiet Girl (An Cailín Ciúin in the Gaelic language mostly used) was premiered last Thursday in this city, Córdoba, La Plata and Rosario.

Directed by Colm Bairéad and based on the book Foster by Claire Keegan, The Quiet Girl is also a quiet film – if you are an addict of action movies packed with car chases and martial arts and starring the likes of Steven Seagal and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, this will have the same attraction for you as a barbecue grill for vegans – but it already arouses local interest as one of the four rivals of Argentina, 1985 in last March’s Oscar ceremony.

This film also warrants Argentine interest for touching a theme both underlying and exceeding this electoral week – namely child poverty. The quiet girl is nine-year-old Cáit, the neglected daughter of a poor and numerous rural family. Her parents send her for the summer holidays to the far more prosperous home of her mother’s cousin where she is treated with loving warmth by her temporary foster parents whose kindness nevertheless has an ulterior motive which this reviewer will not reveal in order not to be a spoiler. With this contrast between the two homes, this film and Keegan’s book would seem to defy the glorification of poverty fashionable in some circles here.

None of the actors are internationally known (perhaps not household names even in Ireland) but they all play their parts well in this very human film about very ordinary people. The photography is exquisite and the setting is true to the period – rural Ireland in 1981, a time when the Celtic tiger was not even a cub even if already a member of a nine-strong European Community since 1973 although some economic historians would argue that Eire was already beginning to turn the corner as early as the Sean Lemass government (1959-66).

Hard to put a finger on what made this film one of the world’s five best in the eyes of Hollywood – perhaps the contrast between such a slow story in its quaint language amid a rural backdrop in today’s globalised, urbanised and fast-moving world. But last Monday’s preview at Cinepolis Recoleta (courtesy of the Irish Embassy and Zeta Films) won the applause of those invited, including this reviewer. 

Michael Soltys

Michael Soltys

Michael Soltys, who first entered the Buenos Aires Herald in 1983, held various editorial posts at the newspaper from 1990 and was the lead writer of the publication’s editorials from 1987 until 2017.

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