When Jennifer Kent was still a relatively unknown visionary with a little domestic fright flick called The Babadook (2014), IFC Midnight brought it to theaters in a limited run that helped turn it into one of the most terrifying exposes on motherhood.
So naturally, it makes sense that Kent’s latest film would once again find a home with the New York City based distributor. Picked up after the films Special Jury Price win at last years Venice International Film Festival, The Nightingale is looking to kick up similar fuss the way The Babadook rattled the hornets nest of the horror genre when it premiered back at Sundance in 2014.
A period-revenge piece set in 1825, Kent’s sophomore effort follows young Irish convict Clare (Aisling Franciosi) who, under the domineering thumb of a British officer (played by Sam Claflin), seeks retribution for the wrongdoing against her family. Along the way, Clare picks up Billy (Baykali Ganambarr), an aboriginal tracker with a sordid and equally traumatic past who helps her find justice and meaning in a violently evolving world.
In talking with Variety, Kent describes The Nightingale as “a study on violence and what a violent mind and therefore a violent society can do to damage the human spirit.” Similarly to the underpinnings of her debut film, in which a recently widowed mother (Essie Davis) must cope with the love and understanding of her son (Noah Wiseman), Kent explains how for her it’s about “love — not in a schmaltzy way — but its power to allow us to evolve as human beings.”
After the immense and terrifying success of The Babadook – which opened to critical praise against a limited three-theater release – Kent was inundated with scripts, yet chose to remain focused on writing and directing a film that Indiewire calls “a kind of revenge drama that in its own way is more disturbing than its predecessor.”
While an exact theatrical release has yet to be pin-pointed, we can be sure that it’s arrival will not be without its fair share of controversial water-cooler talk. “We’re looking for the best date to position the movie.” says Arianna Bocco, the EVP of Acquisitions and Productions of IFC Films, telling Variety that it’s “going to start a lot of conversations.”
Filming began back in March of 2017, shooting on location in Tasmania. The Nightingale also stars Damon Herriman (House of Wax), Ewen Leslie (Sleeping Beauty), Harry Greenwood (Hacksaw Ridge) and is set to release some time this summer.