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The Nightingale (2018)

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Release Date: August 2

Set in 1825, Clare, a young Irish convict woman, chases a British officer through the rugged Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family. On the way she enlists the services of an Aboriginal tracker named Billy, who is also marked by trauma from his own violence-filled past.


Jennifer Kent


Jennifer Kent
110 ( 363)
3 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Sam Claflin ... Hawkins
Damon Herriman ... Ruse
Aisling Franciosi ... Clare
Ewen Leslie ... Goodwin
Charlie Shotwell ... Eddie
Nathaniel Dean ... Stoakes
Baykali Ganambarr ... Billy
Sam Smith ... Sheep Farmer
Harry Greenwood ... Jago
Michael Sheasby ... Aidan
Matthew Sunderland ... Davey
Luke Carroll ... Archie
Christopher Stollery ... Major Bexley
Ben McIvor ... Dull Convict
Magnolia Maymuru Magnolia Maymuru ... Lowanna


Set in 1825, Clare, a young Irish convict woman, chases a British officer through the rugged Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family. On the way she enlists the services of an Aboriginal tracker named Billy, who is also marked by trauma from his own violence-filled past.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


1820's Tasmania. A young Irish convict seeks revenge. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violent and disturbing content including rape, language throughout, and brief sexuality


Official Sites:

Causeway Films [Australia] | Kojo | See more »



Release Date:

2 August 2019 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Nightingale See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The film in 2018 won two awards at the at the Venice Film Festival - the Special Jury Prize and the Marcello Mastroianni Award for Best Young Actor for Baykali Ganambarr. See more »

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User Reviews

Unfortunate Writing/Directing, could be a 10/10
12 June 2019 | by stephyr-88256See all my reviews

Rough movies don't stop me from watching, from horror films to war stories. History is filled with tales of blood and violence. And the consequence is that we cannot tell history without including the atrocities of the events, and it is important to do so without censoring it.

The first act can mostly be skipped and caught up with a sentence or so. It feels like an extended cut but... it's the actual movie. Some segment of it are lengthy for no reason and do not provide or showcase any new information or element. I don't believe it is an attempt at spectacle, but it definitely tries to be compelling directing in a way it is failing at, Kent either did not know how to express what she wanted to tell or her attention was on trying to reinvent the wheel instead of just building a wheel that works for a starter. It is best in her position to leave these types of storytelling-using-the-lenses to people like Denis Villeneuve. Kent just misses the mark on that aspect, but it's important to note that she clearly tries very hard.

The second act is where we start to have actual meat to the story, but everything set up by the first act is non engaging, non compelling. She seem to try to make us root for character/s because of their suffering. But struggles and suffering in storytelling are not the same thing, struggles are obstacles, suffering is the result of something. Suffering doesn't make us root for somebody, it makes us feel bad maybe, but pain doesn't generate an underdog to root for at all. And without spoiling, the focus is mostly on pain. Now, pain can work. For example, it works perfectly in the setting of John Wick. The reason it works is not because of the pain as a component, but because of who experiences the pain and the output the character uses for the pain. Which in John Wick's case, was violence. Pain can be a very useful storytelling element, but when pain is just pain and its presence is just because its part of the story, it makes very little sense to spend time on it, which we do for the first act. The set up is not bad, but it fails to capture our interest.

Now since this is a no-spoiler review, I will be more brief on the third act, but it lacks the payoff it seems to try to build up to. It feels less like the end of a movie and more like the rain outside stopped falling. It's just what it is, which only reinforce the sentiment that there is just no focus on the story. It feels so secondary, and you can tell Kent tries to make us care, but its just too little too late by the third act.

Unfortunately for this movie, the attention was always devoted to that violence instead of the telling the story through it the way so many incredible masterpiece did. Kent claims at this point in time that it isn't a movie about violence, but I disagree, violence is the only active engine under the hood of this story, there is very little else at play. Everything outside of that violence is unfocused and does not receive the attention it deserves. The story itself seemed very secondary, I would say that the best way to express it is that it is a movie you can watch and follow without sound. You can mute The Nightingale and still follow the overall story. While there is a story and an interesting one, it constantly feels secondary. It is like the love story in a superhero movie, it's there, but it's not what the movie is about. Which is strange, because you can clearly see that this movie wants us to care about that story. It feels like Kent had to make tough calls and ended up putting a lot of time in portions of the movie the entire theater would have fast-forwarded through if they could.

One could say a movie does not always have to be about its story. Sicario is not devoted to its story entirely, it is devoted to an experience, it does it perfectly. It is gruesome, but not gratuitous; Brutal, but not exploitative. It is an unfair story in an unfair world and it works. Sadly, when it comes to The Nightingale, the story itself is all there is to it and giving it the backseat makes the movie quite bland.

Display of violence and abuse can be impactful and be a component of a compelling story, but it can't be the engine behind the rest of your movie. You need something more to make us care about what happens. Feeling bad for characters isn't enough. Even a movie like Saw had a mystery and puzzles to solve behind it. It feels like the directing focus is always on what they want us to see, not on what matters.

It feels like the movie constantly tries to justify itself and constantly try to support actions and decisions before executing. I don't know if Jennifer Kent lacked faith in her decisions, but it ruined the film for me. All she seemed to truly want to nail down is that these events were hell, they were horrifying and bad. I am left wanting more of the story itself, not all the content she wrapped around it.

BUT there is a compelling story there, good actors, good scenery, good soundtrack. Sound effects are also something I noticed, lots of attention to detail. The story, if properly written and the movie properly directed, could have been a truly incredible movie about these tragic events. But as strange as it sounds, the movie is not about the topic of the movie. And I know it sounds wild, but it is true and its for the most part why my rating is that low.

Some of you will say 1/10 is brutal. But as an avid viewer of movies, all I can say is that even the Emoji movie was focused on its story. It was a bad one, but it was focused on it. I know lots of people will "not find this review helpful", since for some people, the visual is enough. I can clearly see what this movie could be, but it's not what it tries to be. And it feels like the prize it won is mostly due to some of its provocative nature instead of the overall movie. Some movie maker make a career out of provocative content, personally a movie needs to be good and compelling, it needs to have something going for itself.

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