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The Nightingale Is An Aussie Film That Will Give You Nightmares

The Nightingale Poster 2018

IFC Midnight picked up The Nightingale. The adventure-thriller film was produced by Causeway Films and Made Up Stories. With so much support from distributors like Transmission Films, Vertigo Releasing and, Shout! Factory, it’s no wonder the film packs a punch. Movies about colonial Australia aren’t easy to get right. This is a hard-hitting independent feature and you should find the time to watch it.

Despite the fanfare, it took me a while to get around to The Nightingale because of the particularly stressful nature of the narrative. The story is set in 1825 and begins with a massive spotlight on Clare and her husband and baby trying to make their way as Irish convicts. Almost immediately it shows itself as a revenge story of epic proportions. It doesn’t let up for some time.

With so little reprieve in opening scenes, I can say the violence perpetrated with such a flippant hand, leaves little time to catch your breath. The many rapes and killings aren’t set up in a gratuitous way but it’s very full on. The speedy build up of dire consequences made my heart race. Or maybe I was having a panic attack; who knows but it was pretty horrendous.

The antagonists are extremely distasteful. It’s easy to champion the revenge mission that is set into place. It’s also easy to relate to the desperation of those trapped inside the ‘black’ war. Who really wins between the colonisers and those that inhabited the land first will be a tale forevermore.

Movies About Colonisation

Movies about colonial in Australia. Baykali Ganambarr as “Billy”
Baykali Ganambarr as “Billy” in Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale. Courtesy of IFC Films. An IFC Films release. Movies about colonisation.

Performances are excellent and, the villains are especially cretinous. The selected casting only drives home that there is always another generation before and after to witness events as they play out. There are children, the young and the old all represented. Revenge is never a simple matter of defeating a specific orchestrator. It often continues down the line before exploding into a hatred for anyone who looks like them or acts like them to be vanquished until the end of time.

Aisling Franciosi

Aisling Franciosi is such a powerful force on screen and is best known for her role in Game of Thrones as Lyanna Stark. In this role, it’s inward strength she manages to put forward and that makes her very convincing as Clare. Surprisingly her character alongside Baykali Ganambarr who plays Billy will leave you wondering about his previous roles. This is it, they extend to this film and he’s fabulous. Baykali’s next role will be in The Furnace due out in 2020.

Thankfully the panicked pacing does allow for some room to breathe. Eventually. It slows momentarily between the total annihilation of the heart and souls of the characters in front of you. Recovery begins within the forming relationships of allies. An understanding between those that fight for a common cause becomes a sanctuary inside this duo as you wait for the finale.

The differences in traditions and culture are shown as a thing of beauty even when misinterpreted or misunderstood. Both Clare and her guide Billy become more and more the same as the film wears on. Despite their color, nationality, and background they are easily recognized as similar spirits. Both simply trying to correct past wrongs in a sea of injustice.

Violence Begets Violence


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Movies about colonial Australia from 1825. Damon Herriman as “Ruse”
Movies about colonial Australia. Damon Herriman as “Ruse” in Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale. Courtesy of IFC Films. An IFC Films release.

The film’s writer and the director, Jennifer Kent, marks The Nightingale as a follow up to the successful The Babadook (2014.) For this film, she wanted to instill the ethos of empathy. Those caught up in the epicenter of violence which they simply can’t escape.

But as the saying goes, “violence begets violence” and the visage here manages to create that mentality ten-fold. It’s still difficult to recognize the rightful place for hatred like this to cease. Can the simple act of not responding, in the same way, end the turmoil?

I give The Nightingale

4 songs instead of killing out of 5

4 stars out of 5
4 stars out of 5

Finally, you need to rent or buy The Nightingale and judge for yourself.

Starring: Aisling Franciosi, Sam Claflin, Baykali Ganambarr, Damon Herriman, Harry Greenwood, Ewen Leslie, Charlie Shotwell, Michael Sheasby, Charlie Jampijinpa Brown and, Magnolia Maymuru.

Aisling Franciosi as “Clare” Movies about colonisation in Australia.
Aisling Franciosi as “Clare” in Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale. Courtesy of IFC Films. An IFC Films release. Movies about colonisation.

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