Colm Bairéad’s beautiful directorial debut, a couple of nine-year-old lady fostered out to distant relations for a summer season by mother and father unable to manage, deserves to be as a lot of a basic because the Nineteenth-century novel that turns into younger Cáit’s bedtime studying, Heidi. Instead of goats within the Alps, Bairéad and cinematographer Kate McCullough give us a dairy farm within the lush panorama of County Waterford, the place the gruff Seán (Andrew Bennett) tends his cows, whereas the desperate-to-please Eibhlín (Carrie Crowley) teaches her to cook dinner and fetch water from a properly of unknown depth.
This apparently mild story has its personal murky depths: the bottle-fed calves that Cáit learns to feed have been faraway from their moms; the room the place she sleeps and the garments she wears belong to a previous that’s saved secret from her and from us, though it’s signalled within the very first of the movie’s sly half-reveals by her ne’er-do-well father (Michael Patric), as he grudgingly drops her off in his beaten-up automotive.
Faithfully based mostly on Claire Keegan’s novella Foster, although unfolding in a mixture of Irish and English, the movie is literary and completely cinematic in its sinister potential. The backstory of Cáit’s feckless father and eternally pregnant mom is pure Thomas Hardy, whereas the situation of a kid deserted to strangers in the midst of nowhere is a understanding nod to gothic horror. Within the occasion, its most brutal second comes by way of a aspect swerve into comedy, when the officious neighbourhood gossip (Joan Sheehy) takes it upon herself to spill all of the beans.
In any other case, the jeopardy of the grownup world is revealed to Catherine Clinch’s eternally vigilant Cáit by way of averted eyes, main questions, or the unusual unleashings of a card recreation or a funeral. She’s an harmless whose personal silence is a thriller: her bedwetting hints at trauma, whereas the grace with which she initiates a relationship with Seán, by slipping into step with him as he sluices down his cowshed, hints at an intuitive knowledge.
Maybe the true story, the movie suggests, will not be two adults rescuing a toddler, however a toddler bringing two adults again to life. For all their kindness and generosity, meals with Seán and Eibhlín are joyless affairs. Usually, the turning level is glimpsed by way of a half-open door, as Cáit watches them cosying up to one another over the washing up. It’s solely a tiny gesture of affection, the touching of two heads on the kitchen sink, however it is usually a second of transformative magic.