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'The Babadook' Director Jennifer Kent Returns with Her Brutal New Film, 'The Nightingale'

Five years after her debut hit, the Australian filmmaker returns with a different kind of horror.
By Sarah Ward
May 24, 2019
By Sarah Ward
May 24, 2019

When Jennifer Kent's The Babadook creeped its way across screens in 2014, it became an Australian horror classic. Now, five years later, the Aussie filmmaker is back with a completely different type of unsettling film. Prepare to feel just as uncomfortable in The Nightingale, which steps back to Tasmania circa 1825 to follow a young Irish convict (Aisling Franciosi) seeking revenge on a cruel British officer (Sam Claflin) — with assistance on her trek from an Aboriginal tracker named Billy (Baykali Ganambarr).

Premiering at the Venice Film Festival last year, the movie made an instant splash, winning a special jury prize for Kent and nabbing the best young actor award for Ganambarr — a dancer from Arnhem Land who had never appeared on screen before. The Nightingale then screened at the Adelaide Film Festival, as well as at Sundance; however the bulk of Australia has been waiting for the film to finally hit cinemas. And, to even catch a glimpse of just what's in store.

The just-released first trailer for The Nightingale takes care of the latter problem. "You don't want trouble, but sometimes trouble wants you," Claflin's character snarls menacingly in a particularly chilling moment, with the Hunger Games star definitely playing against type. As for when it'll release locally, the film is set to play this year's Sydney Film Festival before rolling out in cinemas around the country at the end of August.

Unpacking Australia's colonial history, as well as its treatment of both women and the country's Indigenous population, it's an absolutely essential and shattering masterpiece — something we say from experience. The vengeance-fuelled film is also far from easy to watch, filled as it is with trauma, darkness, visceral shocks and deep-seated pain. Inspiring walkouts at the movie's sessions in Adelaide, Kent can't be accused of holding back.

Check out the trailer below:

The Nightingale releases in Australian cinemas on August 29, 2019.

Published on May 24, 2019 by Sarah Ward


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