Even before its release, Colm Bairéad’s debut feature has (quite rightly) become one of the most lauded and garlanded Irish films of recent years. Adapted from Foster, a short story by Claire Keegan, it centres on nine-year-old Cáit, a shy and withdrawn child who receives scant attention or affection from a family ruled by an uncaring patriarch. When she is sent to spend the summer with her aunt Eibhlín (Carrie Crowley) and her husband Seán (Andrew Bennett), she comes out of her shell, blossoming in their care, especially when Seán’s initial aloofness fades. At the end of the summer, difficult decisions and realities must be faced. This is a work of small moments and details, anchored by Catherine Clinch’s remarkable performance as the titular quiet girl, that make for a film of pure artistry, as uplifting as it is heartbreaking.
Notes by Kevin Coyne