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NIGHTINGALE, THE (2019)

SYNOPSIS:
Clare (Aisling Franciosi), a 21-year-old convict in Tasmania in 1825, is an Irish wife and mother held captive beyond her 7-year sentence. She is desperate to be free of her obsessed master, British lieutenant Hawkins (Sam Claflin). Clare's husband Aidan (Michael Sheasby) intervenes with devastating consequences for all. When British authorities fail to deliver justice, Clare pursues Hawkins, who leaves his post urgently to secure a captaincy up north. Unfamiliar with the Tasmanian wilderness she enlists the help of Aboriginal tracker Billy (Bykali Ganambarr).

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
At once artfully cinematic and thoroughly commercial, The Nightingale reaffirms Jennifer Kent's post-The Babadook credentials as a natural born filmmaker. Her storytelling is as acute as her sense of visualisation and her cast delivers for her in spades.

Set in 1825 it may be, but the sensibilities behind her screenplay are every bit relevant and resonant with today's heightened awareness of Australia as a society with a past. That means a long, deep past, before the convict days. And of course, the convict days.

The white convicts - Irish for the most part here - are as badly treated as the indigenous folks and Tasmania - while stunning to the eye - is painful to the heart. The savages are in uniform. The rescuers are in ochre. The nightingale is the motif for Clare (Aisling Franciosi), the young Irishwoman who suffers outrageous treatment, while the blackbird is the motif for Billy (Baykali Ganambarr) the young blackfella who starts off as her guide through the dense, dangerous bush and ends up as her coach and minder.

Sam Claflin is cast cleverly against type as the evil Lieutenant Hawkins, personifying all that was bad about the English colonialists. If a movie is defined by the effectiveness of its baddie, Claflin has done his job.

The film looks great (thanks camera and design), whether in the midst of the woods or inside the humble abodes where the action sometimes takes place.

And yes, it is certainly harrowing in parts, but it's a story set in brutal times, and the occasional lyricism is a perfect contrast.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

NIGHTINGALE, THE (MA15+)
(Canada/Aust/US, 2019

CAST: Aisling Franciosi, Sam Claflin, Bykali Ganambarr, Damon Herriman, Harry Greenwood, Ewen Leslie, Charlie Shotwell, Michael Sheasby, Matthew Sunderland, Magnolia Maymuru, Christopher Stollery, Nathaniel Dean, Claire Jones, Luke Carroll, Dallas Mugarra

PRODUCER: Kristina Ceyton, Steve Hutensky, Jennifer Kent, Bruna Papandrea

DIRECTOR: Jennifer Ken

SCRIPT: Jennifer Kent

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Radek Ladczuk

EDITOR: Simon Njoo

MUSIC: Jed Kurzel

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Alex Holmes

RUNNING TIME: 136 mins

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Transmission

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 29, 2019






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