The Nightingale | Chicago Reader
click to enlarge the_nightingale-web.jpg

The Nightingale

Jennifer Kent’s second feature (after The Babadook) is a postmodern critique of British colonialism that considers the chauvinism as well as the racism of the colonial project. Set in early 19th-century Australia, it centers on a young Irishwoman who, along with her husband, has recently finished a seven-year period of servitude on a British military base. Kent addresses early on how brutal the British were toward anyone they considered socially inferior with a harrowing scene in which soldiers gang-rape the heroine, then kill her baby and husband. The perpetrators of the attack leave the base shortly thereafter, and the heroine, teaming up with an Aboriginal tracker, follows in pursuit with the aim of taking revenge. In its focus on symbolic, violent retribution, the film is thematically similar to Quentin Tarantino’s revisionist historical fantasies, though Kent’s deglamorized, relentlessly unpleasant depiction of suffering couldn’t be further from the adolescent glee of Tarantino’s films. Still, there’s something vaguely two-faced about Kent’s revenge narrative—the heroine’s progress has the effect of overshadowing the history of atrocity that the film wants to confront.

Credits

Director:

  • Michelle MacLaren

Writers:

  • Ann Peacock
  • John Sayles
  • Kristin Hannah
  • Michelle MacLaren

Producer:

  • Elizabeth Cantillon

Related Stories

What others are saying

  • Reviews/comments

    Subscribe to this thread:

    Add a review


    Roll over stars and click to rate.

    Now Playing

    By Film...

    By Theater...