Jennifer Kent burst onto the horror scene in 2014 with her feature film debut, The Babadook, which is a horrific look at motherhood and grief. Now, she tackles rape, revenge, and colonialism in her next film, The Nightingale.
The Nightingale’s trailer features a haunting a capella performance by Aisling Franciosi (Game of Thrones), which sets a desperate, melancholy tone for the film. This, paired with footage of escalating violence, shows that Kent’s next film will be as relentless as The Babadook, and even more beautiful. While moving away from the supernatural, The Nightingale is Kent’s look at the horrors capable by human beings, especially in the historical context of Australian colonialism. She offers a look at oppression of prisoners and Australia’s indigenous population, portraying their plights in the face of white men in places of power.
Here is the film’s official synopsis from IFC Films:
The Nightingale is a meditation on the consequences of violence and the price of seeking vengeance. Set during the colonization of Australia in 1825, the film follows Clare (Aisling Franciosi), a 21-year-old Irish convict. Having served her 7-year sentence, she is desperate to be free of her abusive master, Lieutenant Hawkins (Sam Claflin) who refuses to release her from his charge. Clare’s husband Aidan (Michael Sheasby) retaliates and she becomes the victim of a harrowing crime at the hands of the lieutenant and his cronies. When British authorities fail to deliver justice, Clare decides to pursue Hawkins, who leaves his post suddenly to secure a captaincy up north. Unable to find compatriots for her journey, she is forced to enlist the help of a young Aboriginal tracker Billy (Baykali Ganambarr) who grudgingly takes her through the rugged wilderness to track down Hawkins. The terrain and the prevailing hostilities are frightening, as fighting between the original inhabitants of the land and its colonisers plays out in what is now known as ‘The Black War.’ Clare and Billy are hostile towards each other from the outset, both suffering their own traumas and mutual distrust, but as their journey leads them deeper into the wilderness, they must learn to find empathy for one another, while weighing the true cost of revenge.
As you can see from the plot synopsis, Kent is juggling a complicated history. But, with her past work, it can almost be guaranteed to be handled with a care and expertise that will pack a violent punch while also carrying an intense emotional weight. The Nightingale premiered at the 2018 Venice International Film Festival and has been touring the festival circuit, receiving overwhelming positive reviews.
The Nightingale is set to hit theatres on August 2. What do you think of Kent’s next feature film? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and in the Horror Fiends of Nightmare on Film Street Facebook group!