Be warned: Jennifer Kent's The Nightingale is not for the faint of heart. In fact, its opening scene is reportedly so brutal that The Film Stage called it “some of the most atrocious on-screen violence in recent memory” after the film premiered at the Venice Film Festival last year.
The Australian director's follow-up to 2014’s The Babadook graphically depicts sexual assault, murder and more in its exploration of systemic racism, class and misogyny in 1825 Tasmania.
We catch glimpses of that in the new trailer, released today in advance of the movie's August 2 release.
The Nightingale centers around Clare (Aisling Franciosi — who played Jon Snow’s mama Lyanna Stark on Game of Thrones), a young Irish convict sent to Australia to serve a 7-year sentence as an indentured servant. But things take a turn when her abusive master, Lieutenant Hawkins, (Sam Claflin), refuses to release her, and enlists his fellow soldiers in an unspeakable act of violence against her family. With no path towards justice available, Clare instead decides to take the law into her own hands, with the help of a young Aboriginal tracker named Billy (Baykali Ganambarr). Their alliance, born out of necessity, is fraught with tension as both grapple with their mutual distrust and personal traumas.
In an interview out of Sundance, Kent told Vulture she didn't want to sugarcoat the particularly violent period of Australian history known as "The Black War," which saw aboriginal inhabitants violently subjugated by British colonizers with little regard for the impact of the death and destruction they sowed. That same sensitivity was applied to scenes depicting sexual assault: there's no gratuitous nudity, and psychological advisors were available on set to help offset any discomfort. The result is a film that appears to offer a nuanced, layered exploration of the consequences of trauma, something we sorely need these days.
I don't know about you, but I am primed to watch a brave, angry woman get bloody revenge on the men who have wronged her. Here's to another addition to the burgeoning canon of female rage! Watch the full trailer below: