The Nightingale contains scenes of sexual violence. Viewer discretion is advised.
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, 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 colonizers 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.
Canada | Australia | USA, 2018, 136 minutes, Rated R, Directed by Jennifer Kent
"With ‘The Babadook’ and now ‘The Nightingale,’ Kent joins the ranks of a few dozen precious filmmakers able to transport us somewhere awful and beautiful, challenging us every step of the way."– Michael Phillips, CHICAGO TRIBUNE
“Just as she did in ‘The Babadook,’ Kent maintains tension for so long at a stretch that you do not notice you have forgotten to breathe until it finally eases up."– Carla Meyer, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
“Writer-director Kent leaps to the front ranks of world filmmakers with this devastating tale of colonial brutality.”– James Verniere, BOSTON HERALD
“In Jennifer Kent's pulverizing revenge tale, Aisling Franciosi delivers a tour de force as an Australian woman determined to put a stake through the heart of toxic masculinity. You won't know what hit you.”– Peter Travers, ROLLING STONE
“Essential viewing. You’ll never forget it."– Chris Evangelista, SLASHFILM
“Mythic and gripping. A historical revenge tale of shattering beauty.”– Guy Lodge, VARIETY