Jennifer Kent, director of 2014’s The Babadook, has been causing a stir with her latest project. The Nightingale is the new thriller from Kent and on Sunday it screened at Sydney Film Festival. Although the feature was mostly well received in early critic reviews, viewers on the weekend were much less impressed by the movie.
Although The Nightingale is a very different sort of tale from The Babadook it looks equally are brutal and certainly worlds more difficult to watch. The plot follows 21-year-old Irish convict, Clare. She is desperate for freedom from her brutish master after having served him for 7 years. Lieutenant Hawkins refuses to release her and when her husband attempts to retaliate, Clare becomes victim to a brutal crime from the Lieutenant and his peers. Authorities to little to help Clare and so she seeks her own justice after the lieutenant leaves his post suddenly. With many unwilling to join her, she is pushed to ask for help from a reluctant racker who helps her track him down.
Aisling Franciosi plays Clare, and in the movie she is made to watch the Lieutenant and his friends murder her husband and infant child. The serious and extremely difficult subject matter and content proved too much for some viewers. According to ABC, one woman was quoted saying “I’m not watching this. She’s already been raped twice” when leaving the theater.
The director has recognised that the movie is uncomfortable to watch but had this to say:
“Whilst The Nightingale contains historically accurate depictions of colonial violence and racism towards our Indigenous people, the film is not ‘about’ violence, It’s about the need for love, compassion and kindness in dark times.”
It would certainly seem that this movie isn’t for everyone, but I think it portrays an important message and to do so it is necessary to make people feel uncomfortable, especially if you want to share the experience as accurately as possible. According to ABC, Kent has been contacted by sexual assault victims “praising it for its accuracy.” Some critic reviews seem to recognize the necessity in the discomfort of viewing, with one review saying “It’s hard to watch and that’s precisely the point.”
If you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch the trailer below:
Whats your opinion on the sensitive content and graphic imagery included in The Nightingale? Let us know in the comments!