The Nightingale 2019 Movie Review

Jennifer Kent exposes the cruelties done to the natives of Australia with her period drama The Nightingale.


The Nightingale is written and directed by Jennifer Kent, the visionary director of Babadook. The film follows Clare (Aisling Franciosi), an Irish convict, whose baby and the husband (Michael Sheasby) was killed by a depraved British officer (Sam Claflin), pursues him through the treacherous forests with the help of an orphaned native named Billy (Baykali Ganambarr) to the town of Launceston to get her revenge.

Things that worked

The writing was phenomenal. Equal importance was given to all the characters, and nobody seemed left out. I loved the character arc of Clare. At the beginning of the movie, she is just like everyone else and fears the natives might kill her if she were to travel alone through the wilderness. But over the course of the film, she begins to understand the problems faced by them and develops respect for them.

All the performances were exceptional. In particular, Aisling Franciosi as Clare was outstanding. The role wasn’t simple. It needed a lot of effort, both physically and mentally.

The Nightingale
Director Kent with Aisling Franciosi. Photo:Matt Nettheim

Yet, she has managed to give her absolute best, and I rooted for her to get revenge right from the start. I also liked the connection between Clare & Billy (Baykali Ganambarr) and the arguments between them were a delight to watch. Sam Claflin was also fantastic as officer Hawkins. His performance was too good that I despised him right from the start.

I liked how director Kent has used a traditional academy standard aspect ratio of 1.75:1 to provide a claustrophobic experience to the audience, and it certainly has made the film a lot more terrifying to watch.

All the shots were poetic and gorgeous in my opinion. To be specific, all the nightmarish night scenes were brilliantly acted and filmed. The production design was to the point, and they’ve perfectly made us travel back in time to the 1800s.

Things that didn’t work

I had no complaints about the film or the violence. I thoroughly enjoyed watching every frame of it. When most of the directors tend to shy away from portraying violence, she has bravely depicted it, and I believe she needs to be appreciated for staying true to the subject.

Verdict (5/5)

After watching all her films, it is my honest opinion that Jennifer Kent has a keen eye for art, and she is definitely a director to watch out for!!!


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