An Cailín Ciúin – Film Review
by Katie McCann
Director – Colm Bairéad
Writer – Colm Bairéad(adaptation)
Stars – Catherine Clinch, Carrie Crowley, Andrew Bennett
An Cailín Ciúin is an Irish language coming of age story directed by Colm Bairéad based on the short story Foster by Claire Keegan. The plot is simple enough, young Cait is one of many children to her financially stretched parents in 1980s Ireland. She is sent to live with a distant relative while her mother is waiting to have the latest addition to the family. Alone, scared and not entirely understanding her situation she is stranded in Waterford for the summer with the Kinsellas but little does she know that her life is about to be changed forever.
There is very little I can say about this stunning little film without giving away too much of the plot, so I will keep this brief plot-wise as I would never forgive myself for spoiling this gem of a film. Director Bairéad has done something quite stunning in creating a film that is both surprising and incredibly familiar. The entire cast throughout are outstanding, but a special mention must go to newcomer Catherine Clinch whose performance as Cait is wise beyond its years.
Though, in a way, it is a simple story on the surface the layers of this film run very deep. A key motif within the film is how silence speaks volumes, whether the cast are speaking English or as Gaeilge. Quiet little “wanderer” Cait has a multitude of emotions hidden just out of reach and though she says little it is clear from the start she feels incredibly deeply. But she is not alone in this as all the adults around her are also unable to say what they truly feel. The sense of Irish repression, guilt and shame captured in this film is astonishing but also how deeply love runs within us, even when we do not have the words to show it.
I cannot speak highly enough of An Cailín Ciúin. If you are put off by the use of Irish or the subtitles please do not be. This is a movie that speaks to you much more through image and emotion than it does through dialogue. There is an ache and longing throughout An Cailín Ciúin that captures you the moment the film starts and doesn’t even let go even after the credits roll. Honestly, I’ve been thinking about the film for days and I’m not sure I’ll ever stop.
It is a truly special film and one of the best Irish films to be made in years.