In 19th century Tasmania, an Irish convict pursues a British officer who violated her and murdered her family with the help of an Aboriginal guide.
The Nightingale (2018)
Written and Directed by Jennifer Kent
Starring Aisling Franciosi, Sam Claflin, Baykali Ganambarr,
Damon Herriman, Harry Greenwood, Michael Sheasby
Over the years, you can become desensitized to violence. Detached from the action on screen because it exists as a piece of art to entertain, inform, or serve as a reminder that we as a species haven't come that far. I still can't get the images of A Serbian Film out of my head and probably never will. What unfolded before me in this film has also earned that dubious honor. As a general rule, I don't put much stock in the opinions of others when it comes to movies. People's tastes vary so much that what is too much for you could be my Saturday morning cartoons; gleefully consumed in my pj's while eating cereal. Having said that, what Jennifer Kent has done with this story is put the viewer front and center in a brutal, unflinching tale of the abusive nature of men and the power of a woman who has had enough.
The most terrifying scenes are shown close to Clare (the amazing Aisling Franciosi) and her point of view; which makes them all the more gut wrenching. When you think the British can sink no lower, they do. Set among the backdrop of the Black War that took place in Tasmania during the 1820's, the dynamic is stark: women, convicts, and the Aborigines are treated as less than and with cruel disdain.
I found myself being tested on how much I could stand to see Clare endure but I had to see justice served. This film sucked me in and it was beautiful at times in capturing this woman's emotional odyssey to try and get something back that was taken from her. In keeping the story close to Clare, Kent really shows her struggle with her own prejudices and the eventual love she has for Billy (Ganambarr) by the end as they bond over their shared sense of loss and injustice at the hands of the British. This film will rock you to your core and, at least for me, remind you that there has been progress but not as much as we would like to think.