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The Nightingale (2019) - Movie Review

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The Nightingale

The trees on this godless land are bare throughout The Nightingale.  They look like crooked fingers stretching up toward an empty sky that offers nothing but darkness.  So, too appears the land surrounding Clare Carrol’s (Aisling Franciosi) home.  She’s an Irish convict trying to get clear of Tasmania for her husband, her baby, and herself.  It will not be easy. 

"Welcome to the haunting and violent world of The Nightingale.  It is a place where no moral indiscretions are permitted . . . until they are and consequences must reign down"


Clare works hard, cleans, chops wood, cares for her child, and it is all across this haunted landscape; an area of earth that looks to be scorched and stripped bare of its passion and its nature.  Her face, complete with her baby on her back, reflects this.  Even as she sings for the British soldiers who wolf whistle at her and the  British officer, Hawkins (Sam Claflin), who feels he is entitled to more and more nights with her. 

They think she sings for them.  The truth is that she sings for freedom.

There is no escape from the many massacres that writer/director Jennifer Kent (The Babadook) depicts throughout this film’s quest for freedom and power as the colonial history of Australia serves as this film’s backdrop.  Three months into a stint in Tasmania, Clare wants out.  But Hawkins, who is love with her as an object, is in no mood to hear about her flying away anytime soon.  He forbids it. 

This is not an easy film to watch.  Thirty minutes in, you will be ready to run to the exit.  So many trying things happen to the poor girl and the film is unapologetic to the plight and the cruelty on display.  But vengeance – which is a big part of this film’s climax – on this barren land is not easily achieved.

Forget about genre’s here; The Babadook served merely as a calling card, announcing Kent’s abilities to both shatter our nerves and open our eyes to the plight of women on the edge, The Nightingale, serving as her follow-up, puts us front and center as a woman and an Aboriginal Tasmanian named Billy (Baykali Ganambarr) find themselves front and center in the line of fire.  This is the path of the minority; those who are the “colonized”.  It might not be an easy viewing, but it is necessary.  Completely.

Certainly, there are quite a number of emotions running through Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale.  Some will touch you; most will disgust you – especially when it comes to Kent’s fairly graphic and unnerving handling of sex and violence against women.  The viewpoints – often detached thanks to a very slow-moving lens – are extreme and full of many, many different and far-reaching reactions.  What the movie’s scenes of sex and violence drum up, though, will be based on your own personal experiences; here, though, they are all out of a desperation for freedom. The Nightingale

Everyone in this film, especially in the first half, wants to be somewhere else.  That’s saying a lot about a film set in Van Demien’s Land circa 1825, where aborigines are slaughtered, women are scene as sex slaves, and soldiers are serving an extended amount of time in places they’d rather not police over and over again.  Frustrations here run deep and so, too, does the desire for freedom.

Welcome to the haunting and violent world of The Nightingale.  It is a place where no moral indiscretions are permitted . . . until they are and consequences must reign down.  The film opens August 23rd at Screenland Armour in Kansas City and in other select cities.

4/5 beers

The Nightingale

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The Nightingale

MPAA Rating: R for strong violent and disturbing content including rape, language throughout, and brief sexuality.
Runtime:
136 mins
Director
: Jennifer Kent
Writer:
Jennifer Kent
Cast:
Aisling Franciosi, Sam Claflin, Baykali Ganambarr
Genre
: Adventure | Drama
Tagline:
Her song will not be silenced.
Memorable Movie Quote:
Theatrical Distributor:
IFC Films
Official Site:
Release Date:
August 2, 2019
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:

Synopsis: THE NIGHTINGALE is a meditation on the consequences of violence and the price of seeking vengeance. Set during the colonization of Australia in 1825, the film follows Clare (AISLING FRANCIOSI), a 21-year-old Irish convict. Having served her 7-year sentence, she is desperate to be free of her abusive master, Lieutenant Hawkins (SAM CLAFLIN) who refuses to release her from his charge. Clare’s husband Aidan (MICHAEL SHEASBY) retaliates and she becomes the victim of a harrowing crime at the hands of the lieutenant and his cronies. When British authorities fail to deliver justice, Clare decides to pursue Hawkins, who leaves his post suddenly to secure a captaincy up north. Unable to find compatriots for her journey, she is forced to enlist the help of a young Aboriginal tracker Billy (BAYKALI GANAMBARR) who grudgingly takes her through the rugged wilderness to track down Hawkins.

The Nightingale

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