The Nightingale: Revenge & Humanity

The Nightingale

The Nightingale

Directed By: Jennifer Kent

The Nightingale is about a young Irish convict in 1825 Tasmania. She’s supposed to have been freed but the British soldier she works for is not about to let that happen. After a horrible act of violence Clare chases him and two other soldiers into the wild.

In order to do that she needs a tracker and gets help from Billy, a native whose people are being systematically killed.

The first thing I have to say about this movie is the violence and the racism in this movie is deep. There are multiple rapes and countless murders including a child and a baby. I honestly would have turned this movie off after the first twenty minutes but I wanted to see if the assholes got theirs in the end.

Sam Claflin in the Nightingale

The only actor I was previously familiar with is Sam Claflin- I thought him a strange choice almost for such a bad guy but he knocked it out of the park. But the story really belongs to Clare and Billy played by Aisling Franciosi and Baykali Ganambarr.

I don’t think the movies about revenge as much was what happens when we strip people of their humanity- when we lump them in as less than human or less than us.

In the beginning Clare, whose treated like an animal by the soldiers, treats Billy just as badly as anything. When she’s insulted that he lumps her in with them he calls her on it. He doesn’t want trouble and she wants death.

Baykali Ganambarr in the Nightingale

Eventually though Clare begins to see the bigger picture and Billy’s POV and he is able to see Clare for what she is a woman in great pain both mental and physical (which is a nice sad little touch throughout the hunt) and they manage to form a connection despite the dangers they face.

For all the violence there are some truly powerful little moments including Billy breaking down at a dinner and the confrontation in the pub.

Aisling Franciosi in the Nightingale

I do think the end could have used some editing. It’s a bit too much back and forth and eventually takes away some of the power of especially one intense scene.

The performances are great however, the scenery is beautiful and always appropriately wild and while it’s hard to watch considering the subject matter it should be. I’d recommend this one but do keep in the mind the violence.

Recommend: Yes.

2 comments

  1. This seems like a pretty intense watch, and I couldn’t help but jolt at the parts where you mentioned about Clare being lumped into the same category. I think I can guess what that category is, but correct me if I’m jumping to conclusions. It’s definitely a film for after the pandemic, right now I’m strictly Disney.

    • Eek. Rereading months later I definitely made that confusing.

      Generally when they first meet Billy thinks of Clare as no different from the soldiers who are taking his home and treating him like an animal. Clare’s insulted considering what the soldiers just did to her but I recall she actually does treat him very poorly as no more than a servant. Only as they travel together and actually hear each other’s stories do they begin to treat each other as people. The relationship is quiet interesting and definitely the best part of the movie but I totally agree probably not the best film for right now 🙂

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