The Nightingale (2018) Poster

(I) (2018)

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Vengeance is thy name
ferguson-62 August 2019
Greetings again from the darkness. With only her second feature film, Jennifer Kent (THE BABADOOK) has created a near cinematic masterpiece. The only thing holding it back is the historical subject matter and the no-holds-barred approach that will surely limit its audience. From an emotional aspect, the film is extraordinarily uncomfortable and disturbing to watch; however, from a filmmaking perspective, it's a thing of beauty. The two sides of my brain were at war the entire time.

Set in 1825 Tasmania, the opening scenes are ominous and cloaked in dread - even though nothing has happened (yet). We just feel it in our bones ... things are about to go wrong. And oh my, do they ever go wrong. Now you are likely similar to me in that your knowledge of 1825 Tasmanian history is quite limited. This was the era of "The Black War". The British were in the midst of colonizing the country. Violence was prevalent towards women, native Aboriginals, and even the land and existing culture.

Clare (Aisling Franciosi, "The Fall") is a young Irish woman, recently married with a newborn. She has served her 7 year sentence for theft (likely food for survival) and is now an improperly indentured servant to the ambitious and quietly despicable Lieutenant Hawkins (Sam Claflin, THE HUNGER GAMES). Clare is headstrong, but wise enough to understand her place. Her husband Aidan (Michael Sheasby, HACKSAW RIDGE) lacks the same judgement and his foolish attempts to deal directly with Hawkins results in the atrocity that leads to the core of the story.

When her pleas for justice fall on the deaf ears of the British military, Clare's need for vengeance transforms her into a woman-obsessed. Due to the harsh elements of the Tasmanian forest, Clare reluctantly agrees to hire an equally reluctant Aboriginal tracker/guide. Billy (Baykali Ganambarr) takes the job, and the two have little respect for each other as the trek begins. As a female Irish convict, Clare was treated poorly by the British, yet she somehow views herself as superior to Billy. On the other hand, Billy lumps all white people into the category of those to hate and distrust. This pair make quite a statement on racism, classism and pre-judging others. Of course, as their journey continues, their similar backgrounds and commonalities are revealed, bringing these two broken people closer together and building mutual respect.

This is a part of history that Australia understandably doesn't work to keep in the forefront. But the atrocities were very real and Ms. Kent's film never shies away from the gut-punch of a moment. And though it takes place during this dark period with numerous appalling characters, the core element to the Clare's story is determining the consequences and price of seeking vengeance. How does one hold on to compassion and humanity while trapped in an environment that is barely survivable? Does violence truly beget violence? Is there another way? One of the most striking elements of the story is the contrast of mindless slaughter against the intimacy of vengeance. The British soldiers seem to pay little mind to their victims, while Clare is an emotional wreck when violence is required. It's quite a thought-provoking debate.

This is the first leading role for Aisling Franciosi and she is a marvel. Clare is quite a complex character and Ms. Franciosi is remarkable ... as is her singing voice. Also impressive is the performance of Baykali Ganambarr as Billy. Known as a stage performer, this is Mr. Ganambarr's first film role and he is terrific and believable as a young man looking to move on from a life that hasn't been kind or fair. Other key supporting roles include Damon Herriman ("Justified") as Hawkins' right hand man, and Charlie Shotwell (CAPTAIN FANTASTIC) as young Eddie. All performances are strong, and filmmaker Kent was obviously attuned to presenting the authenticity of the period, even down to the spoken language. The costumes never look like something out of a Hollywood warehouse and cinematographer Radek Ladczuk captures the harshness of the land and brutality of the people. It's a gripping tale focused on the reaction to the deepest of personal loss. The reward is there for those brave enough to give it a watch.
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Shocking violence. Heartbreaking aftermath. Beautiful love story. Powerful history lesson. All in one. Worth every tear.
owanitall10 August 2019
I want to start by saying that I did not find The Nightingale excessively violent. And believe me, I hate movie violence. But I feel like I've seen trailers for action flicks that had more. Plenty of TV shows do as well. Maybe not rape, but still. Perhaps the reason it didn't feel excessive was because the movie doesn't dwell on it. It avoids gore, except in a few places where it really was necessary. Not only is there absolutely nothing gratuitous, each of those scenes has in it so much more than just "oh, look, they kill", "oh, look, they rape." For example, both women who are raped are mothers. Both are torn away from their very young children in the process. So, not only are they brutally violated, I was horrified thinking what must have been going through their minds knowing that the children are out there, helpless, crying, and they can't protect them.

At the center of the story is an Irish convict named Clare (Aisling Franciosi) and an aboriginal man named Billy (Baykali Ganambarr) whom she convinces to guide her through the wilderness to the men lead by Lieutenant Hawkins (Sam Claflin) who "took something from her". But it is nowhere near a simple revenge story.

The film offers a history lesson that might be more affecting than anything with names and dates. It's a sharp and clear look at what violence does to people, not just the victims, but the perpetrators too. It's easy to see what happened there earlier. White people take the land, the aboriginals fight them, soldiers brought in to fight them, the aboriginals fight back, and it spiraled on and on turning the whole place into the land of "bad spirits" that we find in the film. We see people that are dead, even if their bodies are still alive. The white woman holding a baby while looking at her burning house. An older aboriginal tracker forced to witness horrific violence against one of his own and then keep guiding the very perpetrators. A convict who saw two others killed right in front of him - tellingly one by an aboriginal and another by an officer.

The soldiers, who are there not exactly on their own free will, are taught to dehumanize the locals as well as the convicts they are guarding. We can see the beginnings of the process in the young officer and in the convict boy Hawkins takes a brief interest in. We can see how it's kill or be killed, quite possibly by one of your own. But by dehumanizing the others they are dehumanizing themselves eventually becoming like Hawkins and his hapless sidekick Ruse (Damon Herriman). The film doesn't let anyone off the hook. There's a heartbreaking scene that reminds us that even settlers who are nice and kind and, what we would now call, woke are still living on the stolen land.

Clare is an orphan who found herself having to steal to survive which landed her in that hell hole of a place as a young girl. Now 21 she finally has things starting to look up for her. A husband, a little hut, a beautiful baby girl. Life. Hope. But her long earned freedom is in the hands of Hawkins who is mildly infatuated with her and wants to keep her for himself. When her husband's ill conceived attempt to break her free brings on a horrible tragedy, she too is pulled into the vortex of violence. And Billy, who is trying to keep his head down and avoid trouble in spite of having suffered enormously from the colonizers, is pulled in along with her. But it is their relationship that holds them and the film together. Watching it move slowly from an understandable distrust to a deep bond melts your heart. To me it's really a love story.

I found the film pulling me in like few have ever done. It was as if I was there, feeling what the characters were feeling as much as it can be possible sitting in my comfortable 21st century chair. I wasn't just grieving for them, I was grieving with them, a few times finding myself breaking down literally seconds before one of them did. This has never happened to me before. I think it's because everything flows so organically. Every mood change, every action, dream, nightmare is right in its place and palpably real. No small feat for something that is also rich with allegory. And the acting is fantastic across the board. Franciosi's performance is raw and alive, like a pulsating vein as she goes through a myriad of subtle changes of emotions. Layers of emotions. Clare never loses her vulnerability, no matter how much rage she is in or how much confidence she is trying to project. That's what makes her so compelling. Ganambarr is a revelation as Billy. He moves seamlessly, with barely a change of tone between being an occasional comic relief, talking about his culture with quiet, yet forceful passion, and revealing just how much he's been hurt, and he is perfect every step of the way. You can see the pain buried inside him slowly seeping out as the movie progresses. And Hawkins could have been a run of the mill villain, but Claflin fleshes him out as someone who commits violence not out of strength, but out of weakness. He is unable to control anything, from soldiers under his command to his own career. Impotent both figuratively and literally, he kills and rapes as a means of control. He doesn't enjoy sex or anything else for that matter. A miserable creature, even more disgusting than he is scary - perfectly befitting someone in the last stages of inner decay.

The film loses its momentum for a bit towards the end, but just barely. I found it a riveting, breathtaking, mesmerizing watch, well worth my every tear.
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After The Babadook, this is surprising, and amazing!!
jjordmaniakk26 October 2018
A step up in scope for Kent after The Babadook, The Nightingale is a brutal, bloody and honest look into the life of woman and Aboriginal People during a period in Australia's history that many seem to forget, all while telling an amazing story.

Based somewhere around the 1830's, Clare is an Irish convict living in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land as it was known), now able to live a life out of physical chains, though this alleged freedom was made possible by a leftenant with ulterior motives. Her character begins as an innocent woman, but once this man causes tragedy to strike in an ruthless way, her attitude changes. Upset and enraged, she becomes hell bent on chasing the officer responsible. However, he has already left the village, using an Aboriginal tracker to lead his group north towards a promised promotion.

Clare also decides to enlist the help of a tracker, only after others in the community find it apparent that no words can stop her from leaving. An unfortunate but necessary and true trope of films of this nature, the tracker, Billy, is of course an Aboriginal person. The two begin to follow the movements of the officer's group. Their journey is long and fraught with as much emotional torture as there is physical.

The two at first share a very unstable bond, a partnership of sorts that forms the centrepiece of the film; both how their relationship changes over time but also how Billy and Clare change and become new people. Clare is haunted by nightmares during the trek, a reflection of what has happened to her before she left, the reason for her trip of vengeance, and ultimately what she plans to do herself.

The promise of another Schilling at the end of the journey begins to leave Billy's mind as he starts to care about Clare's well being. What started as an extremely hostile mutual agreement morphs as the characters learn more about each other. All this and more demonstrate how two people from different worlds can understand each other as best they can. Their shared hatred towards the English doesn't hurt in this regard, one thing that they have in common as these 'settlers' wreaked havoc in both their lives.

Despite the ruthless violence and images that are peppered throughout, with some scenes hard to watch, this is ultimately about grasping onto hope when the way forward seems impassable. To continue pushing forward despite the odds. The final act drives this idea further and ends on a note that at first seems underwhelming, until the meaning behind it becomes apparent. It then takes on much more power.

A trained singer, all the traditional Irish songs sung by Aisling Franciosis as Clare were recorded live. Her singing adds more to a role take that takes her through what feels like the extremity of every human emotion possible. With her face featuring in many close ups, she couldn't have been more believable. A perfect choice - Kent's determination to use an Irish actress in this independent Australian film was certainly worth the effort.

In his first acting role (though a performer of Aboriginal dance), Baykali Ganambarr won the 'Marcello Mastroianni' Award for Best Young Actor award at Venice, and for good reason. His portrayal of Billy goes hand in hand with Aisling's performance. The chemistry that rises and dips as they journey forward is a testament to Baykali and Aisling's skills. Baykali is seemingly a born actor, though in a Q&A after the film, he was extremely modest and when that exact question was put to him, he didn't know what to say, other that that he hope to act again. This is a man who, if he decides to, could be the next David Gulpilil, who was the first major Aboriginal actor to feature in major Australian films.

An incredibly moving film that could be labelled as an epic adventure, Jennifer Kent has created a near flawless film that emotionally hits hard.
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An Important, Brave, Honest, and Difficult Film...
mcguiretyler2 September 2019
The new film by Jennifer Kent is an unfiltered look at 1825 Tasmania through the eyes of an Irish convict named Claire. A horrific act of violence happens against Claire and her family which prompts her on a journey to find the perpetrator. Along the way she slowly befriends an aboriginal tracker that helps her on her journey.

This is not an easy film to watch. It contains horrific acts of violence that are terrible to watch that are consistent throughout the entire film. However, these horrific acts are necessary to show because they depict the truth in what happened in 1825 Tasmania. Jennifer Kent is very careful as to not glorify violence in any way and depicts more of the emotional impact rather than the violence itself. Many filmmakers would shy away from from depicting these events and just leaving hints as to what is happening but writer/director Jennifer Kent is brutally honest and true to the subject matter.

The lead role played by Aisling Franciosi, who plays Claire, is a truly Academy award winning performance and makes you feel like you are witnessing a real person. Along side Aisling Franciosi, is Baykali Ganambarr in his feature debut who is nonetheless astounding who plays the aboriginal tracker. The antagonist, Hawkins, who is played by Sam Claflin, is a brave and daring performance. Claflin often has to do things that many actors would never do. If nothing else, watch this movie for it's terrific performances around the board with not one weak link.

This film is beautifully shot in the backwoods of Tasmania with fantastic night scenes and an overall dreary and washed out tones. This perfectly matches the depressing nature of the script and also does so with the beautiful and haunting score. The production design is also commendable leaving you immersed in the environment. Stylistically, the film does exactly what it needs. It's not leaving you in awe of the visuals but is is using the visuals to accentuate the emotions of the characters.

At 2 hours and 16 minutes, this is very hard to sit through because it is consistently brutal and emotionally draining throughout the runtime. I would not recommend this film to those who are very sensitive but if you can stomach this one, give it a watch. Jennifer Kent has proven herself to be a talent to see. It is important to shine a light on our past so we do not forget the atrocities that humanity has committed so we cannot repeat them. This film does not let you forget the horrific events that took place in Australia and Tasmania but it shows them to you in a way that does not let you forget. This is an important film to see and if you get the chance, go see this one in theaters.
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A tough but powerful and rewarding watch
carrythe22 June 2019
We were introduced to the film by one of the lead actors who advised us to "strap ourselves in", which I think was good advice. It does depict some horrific things done by humans to other humans, and a few people walked out of the screening in the first 10 minutes because by far the worst scenes are at the start.

But I recommend sticking with it as it's really about showing glimpses of humanity underneath murderous hatred in an extremely hostile environment. It is not simply a gleeful revenge thriller, despite the often cartoonish evil of the British soldiers and the Tarantino-esque levels of violence. When the revenge does come, it feels like a drop in the ocean of cruelty that surrounds it - by which I mean the everyday treatment of the aboriginal people by the white settlers and of women as property. The larger themes come through with crushing strength.

There isn't much in the way of humour or lightness here, but it manages to be a compelling and rewarding experience even if it feels a bit exhausting. You can tell it was a tough shoot - it's mostly set in the muddy, wet Australian bush - but like the actors I came out feeling it was worth it in the end.
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Not for everyone
KensaoLightbringer30 July 2019
This revenge film is not for everyone, to say the least. The story is great, but the movie is extremely violent. The first 30 minutes of the film are hard to see, and for a lot of people, even hard to tolerate. One could argue that the director needed all this violence to properly portray the abuse against women that occurred at that time. A powerful experience, from which we do not emerge unscathed
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The Nightingale (2019)
rockman1823 August 2019
The Nightingale

I didn't care about The Babadook so much as a horror film, though I know others loved it. Still, I heard some things about Jennifer Kent's follow up and wanted to see it. It was mixed reviews but mostly positive and I even decided to pay out of pocket for this feature as no AMC theater was playing it to use A-list. I'm quite impressed. Its a long and harrowing journey but one filled with a lot of realization, reflection, and development. This is Kent's most realized work.

The film takes place in Tasmania in 1825, where an Irish convict is raped while her husband and infant child are murdered by corrupt and sadistic British officers. She soon goes on a journey of vengeance to bring bloodshed to those responsible. She enlists the help of an Aboriginal man who knows how to track in the wilderness. Together, the pair go through a tale of survival in the hopes of revenge and bringing justice to the men who have left a day prior. The film stars Aisling Franciosi and Sam Claflin, and Baykali Ganambarr.

The film is gonna split viewers due to its violent nature. There are a few scenes of rape in it and murder that will be uncomfortable for some viewers. Otherwise the film is quite an engorging watch. Franciosi is a terrific lead. Right after her rape, you see the strength in her character develop and the lengths she would go to bring justice. Her development is rapid but unwavering. The film comes from a different time and its interesting to see a film depicting these events.

The film basically felt like a rape and revenge film but not a B movie type from decades ago. Its a fully realized, and quality piece of work with that overarching theme that we saw a lot of in exploitative films. Its a long venture and a slow burn but you will be glued to the screen to watch justice come to those who deserve it. Hopefully if for nothing else, this makes a name for Aislign Franciosi.

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Deeply moving revenge story in colonial Tasmania
lucygracetrotman9 September 2018
Jennifer Kent has crafted an incredible, important, moving piece of cinema that portrays humanity at its darkest, bravest and most beautiful of moments.

With truly fantastic (Venice film festival award winning) turns from the cast, this story of love, greed, abuse of power, revenge and resistance in the face of evil, will surely touch every viewer. The most striking things for me were the way in which the horrific behaviour by British colonial soldiers in this film is just a drop in the ocean compared to the crimes of British empire as a whole, yet this small cluster of soldiers had such a colossal impact of one woman's life, it gives a face to the suffering and atrocities committed. And secondly, the film highlights the gentle beauty and perseverance of aboriginal tradition and spirituality in the face of adversity. Every school child in the UK and Australasia should see this film as a matter of necessity in understanding our past.
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Brilliant movie, acting and scirpt
ebookgamer10 June 2019
Don't believe the negative hype in the Daily Mail, or comments left there by people who never saw this superb film. It is realistic and after the first 20 minutes keep watching as the film unfolds into a masterpiece.
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Total Misfire
vikascoder5 September 2019
If you have your hopes high that this new film from the unnervingly good Babadook's director will provide some revelatory revenge drama, then you are in for a big disappointment. This is firmly in the category of, "it seems great on paper" but it turned out to be really really bad.

The Nightingale has no originality of thought considering the themes that it portrays of the violent history of colonial conflicts with indigenous people and assorted immigrants has been done very well by other great movies already and done in a much refined and artistic way than this piece of fizzled hamfisted effort. The story and its execution is juvenile, the sexual violence handled unsophisticated, dialogues are derivative, the acting and directing a total failure in evoking emotions. Rather it all seems like a first effort from an untalented hack.

Very disappointing and laughably so.
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Ghoulish unsettling masterful nightmare
UniqueParticle27 August 2019
Claire (Aisling Franciosi) is a spectacular actress! This film is so hard to watch in a good way and so well done in every aspect good or bad it's a perfect horror experience! I never wanna spoil such a great thing so I will just say I am so happy with the way the story went, it's a harrowing adventure story filled with dark glimpses of 18th century period times or longer ago and savagery.

I could almost compare it to several others but I won't this was a nice refreshing art tapestry. I love how much better this genre has gotten in the last several decades!
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Intense, brutal and honest
christopher_turano18 August 2019
A film set in 19th century colonial Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) where the harsh and beautiful environment is the canvas upon which the story develops.

A confluence of free English settlers, convicts - both British and Irish - and Tasmanian Aborigines with little understanding or empathy produces a brutality that is raw and shocking.

One feels immersed in the film largely a result of the choice of Academy aspect ratio, making the characters the focus of every scene despite the overwhelming grandeur of the natural environment.

A thoroughly rewarding experience that has the potential to profoundly move and make one think about Australia's colonial past.
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Unfortunate Writing/Directing, could be a 10/10
stephyr-8825612 June 2019
Rough movies don't stop me from watching, from horror films to war stories. History is filled with tales of blood and violence. And the consequence is that we cannot tell history without including the atrocities of the events, and it is important to do so without censoring it.

The first act can mostly be skipped and caught up with a sentence or so. It feels like an extended cut but... it's the actual movie. Some segment of it are lengthy for no reason and do not provide or showcase any new information or element. I don't believe it is an attempt at spectacle, but it definitely tries to be compelling directing in a way it is failing at, Kent either did not know how to express what she wanted to tell or her attention was on trying to reinvent the wheel instead of just building a wheel that works for a starter. It is best in her position to leave these types of storytelling-using-the-lenses to people like Denis Villeneuve. Kent just misses the mark on that aspect, but it's important to note that she clearly tries very hard.

The second act is where we start to have actual meat to the story, but everything set up by the first act is non engaging, non compelling. She seem to try to make us root for character/s because of their suffering. But struggles and suffering in storytelling are not the same thing, struggles are obstacles, suffering is the result of something. Suffering doesn't make us root for somebody, it makes us feel bad maybe, but pain doesn't generate an underdog to root for at all. And without spoiling, the focus is mostly on pain. Now, pain can work. For example, it works perfectly in the setting of John Wick. The reason it works is not because of the pain as a component, but because of who experiences the pain and the output the character uses for the pain. Which in John Wick's case, was violence. Pain can be a very useful storytelling element, but when pain is just pain and its presence is just because its part of the story, it makes very little sense to spend time on it, which we do for the first act. The set up is not bad, but it fails to capture our interest.

Now since this is a no-spoiler review, I will be more brief on the third act, but it lacks the payoff it seems to try to build up to. It feels less like the end of a movie and more like the rain outside stopped falling. It's just what it is, which only reinforce the sentiment that there is just no focus on the story. It feels so secondary, and you can tell Kent tries to make us care, but its just too little too late by the third act.

Unfortunately for this movie, the attention was always devoted to that violence instead of the telling the story through it the way so many incredible masterpiece did. Kent claims at this point in time that it isn't a movie about violence, but I disagree, violence is the only active engine under the hood of this story, there is very little else at play. Everything outside of that violence is unfocused and does not receive the attention it deserves. The story itself seemed very secondary, I would say that the best way to express it is that it is a movie you can watch and follow without sound. You can mute The Nightingale and still follow the overall story. While there is a story and an interesting one, it constantly feels secondary. It is like the love story in a superhero movie, it's there, but it's not what the movie is about. Which is strange, because you can clearly see that this movie wants us to care about that story. It feels like Kent had to make tough calls and ended up putting a lot of time in portions of the movie the entire theater would have fast-forwarded through if they could.

One could say a movie does not always have to be about its story. Sicario is not devoted to its story entirely, it is devoted to an experience, it does it perfectly. It is gruesome, but not gratuitous; Brutal, but not exploitative. It is an unfair story in an unfair world and it works. Sadly, when it comes to The Nightingale, the story itself is all there is to it and giving it the backseat makes the movie quite bland.

Display of violence and abuse can be impactful and be a component of a compelling story, but it can't be the engine behind the rest of your movie. You need something more to make us care about what happens. Feeling bad for characters isn't enough. Even a movie like Saw had a mystery and puzzles to solve behind it. It feels like the directing focus is always on what they want us to see, not on what matters.

It feels like the movie constantly tries to justify itself and constantly try to support actions and decisions before executing. I don't know if Jennifer Kent lacked faith in her decisions, but it ruined the film for me. All she seemed to truly want to nail down is that these events were hell, they were horrifying and bad. I am left wanting more of the story itself, not all the content she wrapped around it.

BUT there is a compelling story there, good actors, good scenery, good soundtrack. Sound effects are also something I noticed, lots of attention to detail. The story, if properly written and the movie properly directed, could have been a truly incredible movie about these tragic events. But as strange as it sounds, the movie is not about the topic of the movie. And I know it sounds wild, but it is true and its for the most part why my rating is that low.

Some of you will say 1/10 is brutal. But as an avid viewer of movies, all I can say is that even the Emoji movie was focused on its story. It was a bad one, but it was focused on it. I know lots of people will "not find this review helpful", since for some people, the visual is enough. I can clearly see what this movie could be, but it's not what it tries to be. And it feels like the prize it won is mostly due to some of its provocative nature instead of the overall movie. Some movie maker make a career out of provocative content, personally a movie needs to be good and compelling, it needs to have something going for itself.
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zakashx15 August 2019
Almost accurate description of what would have happened in the 18th Century Australia.

Some people may argue that some of the scenes are not appropriate, but things like that happened in the past and is currently happening in present day America. Look the the Epstein, Weinstein, Smullett, and cop shooting ethnic folks cases.

It's a good watch!
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Would recommend this movie
hsfour24 August 2019
I went to see it bc it was a provocative subject, had mixed reviews about violence and whether indigenous ppl were represented, too. I dropped my drink on the floor bc of distraction (shock) during the scene with the baby. Later, I heard a purse type bag drop and even later a set of keys. Well, that was my audience's experience. The brutality was ugly and in your face, a complete descent into dehumanization. This was a movie about colonization and all of its victims and by that I mean even all of the ppl cogs in service to the powers that be. No scene demonstrated that better than the "polite" supper scene hosted by diners trying be civilized in a crazy situation. It was about one woman's struggle and a growing awareness of shared suffering. It was a good movie to think about what progress means today and how we can do it better, consider consequences better, be better people about it.
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Phenomenal, unbelievable and gripping.
jeremytylercole4 August 2019
This film is unnerving, disturbing, beautiful and heart wrenching. I was biting my nails, gripping my seat and unaware I was watching a film since I was so enveloped in the cinematic glory.
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babyjaguar20 August 2019
This showstopper (brilliantly directed and written by Jennifer Kent) tells the early colonial beginnings of Australian race, gender and class divisions. It circles around an Irish family. Their "happy" beginnings, living in a life of labor exploitation by English soldiers. Their family ends up with strategic encounter with the soldiers, leaving Claire to seek revenge .

Then Billy, an aboriginal is enlisted to become her scout in finding those who can inflicted tragedy into her family. Other commonalities ensued upon both of them to go into the wilderness. This film embraces the reality of Australian colonial past, not to enforce "mythic" acceptance of glorified English New World colonies.

This film is not afraid to show the harsh brutality big what happened aboriginal populations and what on grounds early Australian settlers did to find a new country.
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****** Long Trudge
GManfred7 August 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Most of this film consists of an extended slog through the forests of Tasmania as our heroine tries to hunt down her tormentor, with the help of an aborigine tracker. I wanted to like this movie much more than I did, mainly because I despair of anything worthwhile from Hollywood and indies are the only hope. The actors strive admirably and give good performances but are handicapped by the sluggish pace and extended periods when nothing of import seems to happen.

Aisling Franciosi does a good job as our heroine and Sam Claflin is a dastardly villain, even if the screenplay pushes him over the top at times. And the climax - or anticlimax - was unsettling and lacks a payoff for the viewer. Good work by the photographer, set and costume designers who recreated the atmosphere and ambience of the period. Just needed a heavier hand from the editor and an extra writing help for the director.

****** 6/10 - Website no longer prints my star rating.
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Atrocious, to say the least
margiebell-3196913 September 2018
This is a plotless, exploitational film that uses violence not as a mean to tell a bigger story. Here, violence is the goal, the artifice to shock and persuade at the same time. I am appalled by the good reviews. As for the prizes, she has been awarded in Venice due to (or thanks to?) the scandal revolving around the journalist who yelled sexist atrocities at her. An atrocious film of gratuitous violence that has been awarded due to an atrocious act of sexism. That's not cinema. That's atrocity.
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Absolutely Perfect
zacharyagorman-231456 September 2018
Couldn't stress enough how good this movie is, go and watch it ASAP!
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Brutal, single-minded early Australian revenge story
gavinp928 August 2019
Warning: Spoilers
'The Nightingale' is a revenge film set in early 19th century Tasmania from the director of 'The Babadook'. While not technically a horror film, there's certainly some horrific moments - rape, lynching and murder. Unfortunately, it's probably pretty realistic for Tasmania in the 1820s. Clare (Franciosi) is an Irish convict under the rule of the English Lieutenant Hawkins (Claflin) and married to newly-free Aidan (Sheasby). It's not really a spoiler to say that Hawkins and Ruse (Herriman) murder Aidan, leave Clare for dead and set off north to Launceston, setting in motion her trek for revenge.

While Clare's totally unprepared for the Tasmanain wilderness, she manages to enlist Aboriginal tracker Billy/Black Bird (Ganambarr), who ends up being the star of the film. He brings compassion and justified anger, but also humour and warmth. It helps that his Black Bird can sing along with Clare's "Nightingale" song(s), some sung in Gaelic. It's nice to see them bond over both being subjugated by the English. Much like 2009's 'Van Diemen's Land' (which I probably slightly preferred over this), the Tasmanian bush is a key character, with so many stunning forest, beach, mountain and valley vistas. You should make sure you visit Tasmania if you've never been!

The acting is great, with the villains callous, Clare obsessively determined and Billy trying to find his place in his disrupted world. It's probably 30min too long and has lots of slow moments that don't add too much, and lots of people will have an issue with some of the violence. The film really hits home what English colonisation did to Indigenous Australians and particularly it's compounded effect on Tasmania. There's a truly touching scene near the end with an old English man helping Billy and Clare - but it highlights the exception to the rule.
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Disappointing, strange creative choices
docosaurus10 September 2019
Jennifer Kent's sophomore effort, The Nightingale, is beset with some interesting but ultimately flawed creative choices. The 1.37:1 ratio aspect choice is puzzling and defeats any effort to capture the truely spectacular wilderness in any cinematic sense. An opportunity lost to really describe what should've been another essential character in the movie. Instead there is very little in the way of establishing any sense of geography or location. The closed off framing creates a claustrophobic vibe that even applies to the exteriors. The villains are drawn so broadly as to almost descend into caricature with repeated maniacal giggling and shouting that dilutes any real menace. In fact our heroine seems to have no overt concerns as to any potential danger from said villains eg previous rape/assault attempts or threats to revoke her free woman status. So when the attack comes it feels contrived with no foreboding or dread preceding it. In fact the emphasis on showing the multiple rape scenes just dulls any significant impact the act should rightly impart on the audience. If anything this feels like an ambitious debut from a talented independent artist with a limited budget and even more limited creative toolbox. The 136 minute running time isn't justified, in fact what The Nightingale needs most is to be reduced by 30 minutes. It's languid and suffers for it. Conversely The Babadook still impresses with its tension, taught story-telling, beautifully realised characters and excellent film craft. Sadly The Nightingale could learn a few lessons from it.
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Violence for violence
ath1179810 June 2019
Violence for the point of violence is the story here. Children and babies being horribly assaulted was when I walked out. Pure trash.
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Brilliant movie
nhansonphu12 July 2019
After the badabook. This is another masterpiece. Violence and fiercing made me spin
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kietkyho31 August 2019
The Nightingale was not a good film. I wanted to like this film... I really did... female Australian director, previously made the Babadook, has a lot of indigenous actors... there's a lot of promise for a great film, and for the first 15 to 20 minutes, I was fairly on board... then the movie just turns to absolute crap... oh yeah spoilers ahead, cause I can't really get into why this film is bad without spoiling parts of it.

First off, the sound design is awful. Every time a character talks loudly or yells, you can literally hear their audio clipping... Yes the film was mostly shot outdoors and there's no musical score, so doing sound design with these constraints in mind is very bold... but it was pulled off really badly...

The directing of the action scenes was really bad too... a lot of generic quick cuts so none of the blows feel like blows at all...

The editing was absolutely atrocious and was probably the big thing that ruined this film for me... there are so many potentially powerful scenes in the movie that just get COMPLETELY RUINED by the constant cutting to different angles and perspectives.. and the editing is also responsible for a lot of unanswered plot points / plot holes too... like was this cut trying to imply passage of time? Or did you forget that our actors were being chased just a moment ago, but now thanks to this edit, they're fine..? There are so many scenes that are left completely unanswered and just get ruined with these sudden cuts.

The acting was all over the shop, Aisling Franciosi and Sam Claflin were great, Baykali Ganambarr was good... until he had to cry... then it was hilariously bad... a lot of acting from a lot of the minor characters was AWFUL... there's a scene where these characters are being attacked by these aborigines, so one of the white dudes shoots and kills this indigenous girl they've been keeping hostage... and the response, by the indigenous actor, to the girl being killed was HILARIOUS.... such an under acted response to seeing someone literally die in front of you... nice... also what was the deal with Matthew Sunderland's character (the guy who walks the horse)... he literally didn't utter a single line of dialogue or emote in anyway, he just tags along with Sam Clafin's group of soldiers, walks a horse and is never heard of again...

Also, the horse. There are parts of this film where the characters are clearly walking on a 4WD path, and also parts where the terrain CLEARLY cannot be traversed by a horse... and conveniently in those scenes... the horse is absent, then one magical cut later and the horse is back with them.... There's also a really unintentionally funny scene, where our Aisling and Baykali's character are being chased by these people, and they somehow manage to lose them in the shrubbery... even though there's a great big horse you're trying to hide....

Also Aisling character is an inconsistent idiot. She's a character, whom you as an audience, is trying really hard to root for, but then she does things that go completely against her character and how she was established, as well as doing some incredibly stupid things as well. Her dream sequences were a complete and utter waste of time and added nothing to the story. The decision to present this film in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio also seemed to add nothing to the film.

The fact that this film has a "controversy" section on its wiki page is absolutely laughable. Yes, the first 20 minutes of the film is a bit confronting, but honestly the rest of the film is just.... boring. If you want a film that will make you feel absolutely sick to your stomach in an artistic, beautiful yet messed up way, go watch Irreversible.

Seriously... what the **** happened here.... I'm giving this a 4/10... but it's honestly closer to a 3....
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