Writer: Jennifer Kent (Screenplay)
Starring: Aisling Franciosi, Sam Claflin, Kaykali Ganambarr, Damon Herriman, Harry Greenwood, Ewen Leslie
Plot: Set in 1825, Clare, a young Irish convict woman, chases a British officer through the rugged Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family. On the way she enlists the services of an Aboriginal tracker named Billy, who is also marked by trauma from his own violence-filled past.
Tagline – 1820’s Tasmania. A young Irish convict seeks revenge.
Runtime: 2 Hours 16 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Verdict: Shocking & Intense
Story: The Nightingale starts as an Irish convict Clare (Franciosi) is forced to work under British Officer Hawkins (Claflin) to pay off her debts, which usually involves cleaning and performing a song to the soldiers, until one day he goes too far by raping her, Clare is desperate to get out of her debt, to which she has paid off, but Hawkins won’t release her.
Confronting Hawkins with her husband Aidan (Sheasby), it leads to Hawkins not getting his promotion and Hawkins makings Clare pay with his men Ruse (Herriman) and Jago (Greenwood). Left completely broken Clare is put in contact with aboriginal tracker Billy (Ganambarr), as she goes in search for revenge on the men that took everything from him.
Thoughts on The Nightingale
Characters – Clare is an Irish convict, she has been released from jail to work off her time cleaning and using her beautiful singing voice to entertain the soldiers. She is coping with her time until Hawkins refuses her chance to have her freedom, being subjected to violence from the soldiers, with nothing left she is hellbent on revenge and isn’t in this journey to make any friends or want anybody’s sympathy, she just wants blood. Billy is an aboriginal tracker that reluctantly agrees to help Clare on her journey, he doesn’t want trouble, he is tired of how the white man has treated his kind, believing at first that Clare is just like the rest, until he learns the truth. The two have some true heart to heart moments as well as having moments which will give you a laugh too. Hawkins is a English officer that believes he should be given a promotion to a vacant captain role, he can’t control his soldiers and his aggression sees him leaving bodies in his path, making him have enemies coming from all directions, as he looks to arrive for his latest position. Ruse and Jago are the two soldiers that are also involved in the attack on Clare and her family, they are just as cowardly as Hawkins.
Performances – Aisling Franciosi gives us one of the most grounded and exceptional performances of recent years, she shows us the pure vengeance her character is going through, right next to the grief she would have experienced. Sam Claflin brings us one of the most horrendous humans to life with his performance, one that will leave almost wanting to hate the actors for his performance being so horrid. Baykali Ganambarr is wonderful too showing us the pain that a generation of people would have suffered through during the events of the film.
Story – The story here follows a young woman that sees everything taken from her in an act of violence by military men and seeks her own form of revenge. Where this story steps up comes from breaking certain traditions, while the opening actions are always going to be hard to watch and give the motivation required for Clare determination for revenge. Once we get on the war path, this isn’t a calm calculated plan for revenge like we have seen before, this is a cold complete emptiness reaction to the horrors she experiences with her journey being the only time she properly starts to grieve what she has been through. This is a new level of revenge movie that isn’t just revenge on this one action, it feels like a moment that wants to show the people that the white English soldiers walked all over. Wonderful story telling throughout.
Thriller – This is a tense thriller that shows the path of revenge that one lady and her tracker go on after being wronged by acts of violence by English soldiers.
Settings – The film uses the settings amazingly to show the world that Clare goes into and how the trackers are the only way to get through the outback in Tasmanian wilderness safely.
Final Thoughts – This is one of the best revenge films you will see, it has a different style to anything you have seen before with performances that are true heavyweight ones.