Revenge comes at a cost in the brutal thriller/drama The Nightingale

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The Nightingale is the sophomore feature from Jennifer Kent, the writer/director behind The Babadook, and is a brutal revenge thriller/drama set in the Australian outback during the 19th century.

It’s gotten a lot of positive buzz following its screenings at various film festivals, but with many critics also sounding a warning for its harrowing and uncompromising depictions of sexual violence and brutality.

The extensive plot synopsis is as follows:

The Nightingale is a meditation on the consequences of violence and the price of seeking vengeance. Set during the colonisation 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 terrain and the prevailing hostilities are frightening, as fighting between the original inhabitants of the land and its colonisers plays out in what is now known as ‘The Black War.’

Clare and Billy are hostile towards each other from the outset, both suffering their own traumas and mutual distrust, but as their journey leads them deeper into the wilderness, they must learn to find empathy for one another, while weighing the true cost of revenge.

Let’s take a look:

There’s a palpable sense of both fear and menace running throughout the trailer. While we don’t see much in the way of the violence critics have warned about, it’s easy to tell from the tone that when the movie does ramp it up it’ll be brutal and uncompromising, with the intent of underscoring the sheer horror of the tale – and it’s a tale that certainly looks compelling.

Given the darkness and intensity on display, this is a movie you’ll have to be in the right kind of mood to watch though. What do you think?

The Nightingale is due for release in the US on 2 August.

Last Updated: May 23, 2019

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