Reviews | Written by Courtney Button 09/03/2021

THE NIGHTINGALE

Jennifer Kent follows up her breakout horror, The Babadook, with a revenge film set in the Australia of 1825. Clare (Aisling Fraciosi) is a young Irish convict living as a maid for a small English military unit, waiting for the signed papers that will release her home. After an act of brutal violence, she and an aboriginal guide (Baykali Ganambarr) set off in pursuit of revenge.

The Nightingale is a film of historic anger. In just over two hours it plunges you into life in Australia at the time, where the English were there to ‘civilise’ the ‘savage’ land, but it was their violence and destruction that was the true savagery that was brought to Australia as they colonised it. It’s certainly not an easy film to watch - it’s a protracted chase punctuated by scenes of violence, sometimes quite graphic - but it just about holds the attention.

But in essence, this is still a film where the inciting action for revenge is the rape of a woman. It may hold itself a bit higher than many others who’ve done the same before with its exploration and presentation of the brutal colourisation of Australia, and not revel in the sexual violence being meted out, but it’s still a film whose plot has been done many times before, and it feels long overdue for this what almost now feels like a trope to be put to the side.

If you’re looking to find out more, the disc boasts a few extras including a making of, interviews, and a video essay of the film and its historical and political context.