"The Nightingale" is one of the most violent films I can ever recall seeing in 75 years of movie going, filled with rapes, murders by guns, knives, spears and hangings. It is not 'fun' violence like you would see in "Angel Has Fallen" but realistic violence as certainly took place in Australia and its southern state Tasmania in the 1800s. It is an epic film taking a little over 2 hours and 15 minutes and intriguing but it doesn't grab you emotionally though the basis of the story is certainly emotional.
This is a shocking film about man's inhumanity towards women and towards each other, particularly between aboriginal Australians and the British colonists with the latter wiping out complete tribes of the former. There is a particularly harrowing scene between an aboriginal mother who is with her child and accosted by a couple of British soldiers.
The focus of the movie is the performance of a wronged Irish woman convict, Clare, played by Aisling Franciosi, a young aboriginal tracker, Billy, played by Baykali Ganambarr, and one of the most horrendous, despicable villains to ever appear in a movie, Lieutenant Hawkins, played by Sam Caflin. All 3 give powerful performances but the director/screenwriter Jennifer Kent goes astray with the story in the middle part while her directing and, the director of photography, Radek Ladczuk takes us into the Tasmanian wilderness locations adding a large dimension to the film.
Damon Herriman as a crude, rude corporal, a young soldier played by Harry Greenwood, who is horrified at what he is seeing other people doing is, in many cases, filling in for the audience seeing the film, along with Magnolia Maymuru as the aforementioned aboriginal mother and Michael Sheasby as Clare's husband are all standouts along with the supporting players in the smaller roles.
Many of the scenes between Franciosi and Ganambarr offer some laughs as two people who are so different but have one thing, a very important thing, that binds them. It is here that the Kent, as the screen writer, goes astray regarding these two characters in the middle of the film.
"The Nightingale" is an epic, intriguing movie but I do not suggest it if you are unable to handle a lot of relentless, graphic violence which cuts into the emotional feelings so needed in a film like this.
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.