|Directed by||Jennifer Kent|
|Written by||Jennifer Kent|
|Music by||Jed Kurzel|
|Edited by||Simon Njoo|
|Distributed by||Transmission Films|
The Nightingale is a 2018 Australian Western film written, directed, and co-produced by Jennifer Kent. Set in 1825 in the penal colony of Van Diemen's Land (present-day Tasmania), the film follows a young female convict seeking revenge for a terrible act of violence committed against her family. It stars Aisling Franciosi, Sam Claflin, and Baykali Ganambarr, and was filmed mostly in English, with some Irish and Palawa kani.
The film premiered at the 75th Venice International Film Festival on 6 September 2018, and was theatrically released in Australia on 29 August 2019, by Transmission Films.
In 1825, on the eve of the “Black War”, Irish convict Clare Carroll works as a servant for a Colonial force detachment commanded by Lieutenant Hawkins. The unit is visited by an officer to see if Hawkins is fit for promotion. Clare, nicknamed "Nightingale", sings and serves drinks for the men. After work, Clare visits Hawkins to make an inquiry, and he forces her to sing a special song for him. Hawkins makes unwanted advances on her and Clare rebuffs them. She asks about the letter of recommendation that would free her, her husband, and their infant daughter. Hawkins rapes her. Aidan suspects that Clare has been hurt but remains calm when he confronts Hawkins about the letter; however, he fails to sway him.
That night, Aidan engages in a brawl with Hawkins, his second-in-command Sergeant Ruse, and Ensign Jago. The visiting officer witnesses the incident and decides that he is unfit for promotion. Hawkins commands Ruse and Jago to gather supplies for a journey through The bush to the town of Launceston, Tasmania, in hopes of negotiating with the officer. Before departing, the soldiers intercept the Carroll family, attempting to flee. Hawkins, Ruse, and Jago gang-rape Clare. Hawkins kills Aidan, and Jago kills their baby then knocks Clare unconscious at Hawkins' command.
The following morning, Clare reports the incident to a RMP official, but realizes that he's of no help, so decides to seek revenge herself, with the help of an Aboriginal tracker named Billy. Clare presents the mission to Billy as her desire to rendezvous with her husband on his journey. At first, Clare is domineering toward Billy, but their mutual hostility dissipates and they gradually bond as they learn about each other's tragic upbringings, with both gaining an increased appreciation for each other's culture. Billy tells Clare that his actual name is Mangana, Palawa kani for “blackbird”, the yellow-tailed black cockatoo, and that he wishes to go north to reunite with the still-living female members of his people. Meanwhile, the officers recruit three convicts and an Aboriginal, Charlie for their journey. Hawkins takes a liking to one of the convicts, a child named Eddie, and Ruse kidnaps a woman named Lowanna to be used as a sex slave. Aboriginal men kill one of the convicts and injure Jago in an unsuccessful rescue mission. Hawkins holds Lowanna hostage, then kills her distracting the men. He, Ruse, and the convicts flee, leaving Jago behind. Later, Clare and Mangana stumble upon Jago, whom Mangana assumes is her husband. Clare corners Jago, stabbing and beating him to death. Mangana considers abandoning Clare, but after he learns the true story behind her desire to get revenge, he decides to stay.
Charlie, as revenge for the soldiers' inhumanity, diverts the journey to a dead end on the summit of a mountain. Ruse kills him, but Hawkins chastises Ruse and forces him to be their guide on the way back down. After Clare and Mangana find Charlie's body, Mangana performs burial rites and informs Clare that now he too, seeks vengeance. The two approach the group of four men, but Clare freezes when she sees Hawkins, allowing him to graze her with a musket shot, forcing Clare and Mangana to split up. Mangana is found and forced to be the new guide. He brings the soldiers back to the main path to Launceston, and Hawkins orders Eddie to kill Mangana, but Eddie hesitates, allowing Mangana to escape. Hawkins tries to abandon Eddie, but when Eddie begs for a second chance, Hawkins shoots and kills him. Clare also finds her way back onto the main path and reunites with Mangana. They encounter a chain gang of Aboriginal men, one of whom informs Mangana that he is now the last of his people. When the prisoner yells at his captors about their callousness, they shoot him and the others dead.
In Launceston, Clare confronts a newly promoted Hawkins about his crimes in the presence of his fellow officers while Mangana watches in hiding. The two then flee town, but Mangana dons war paint, and makes back for the town despite Clare's pleas that he'll be murdered. She follows as Mangana enters the hostel where Hawkins and Ruse are lodged, and proceeds to kill them both, but not before Ruse shoots and deeply wounds him. Clare and Mangana flee and arrive at a beach where Mangana dances and declares himself a free man, while Clare sings a panegyric Gaelic folk song as the two watch the sun rise.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, director Jennifer Kent was "deluged" with film scripts from the United States after the success of her debut film The Babadook (2014), but decided to focus on writing and directing The Nightingale. IndieWire reported that shooting for The Nightingale began on location in Tasmania in March 2017.
Due to the brutality of the film's scenes, psychologists were brought on set to support the actors.
The Nightingale was released in the United States on 2 August 2019 by IFC Films, and in Australia on 29 August by Transmission Films. The film was selected to be screened in the main competition section of the 75th Venice International Film Festival, and had its Australian premiere at the 2018 Adelaide Film Festival. IFC Films announced on Twitter they bought the rights to distribute the film in the US and have set a release for Summer 2019, following its festival run.
On Rotten Tomatoes, The Nightingale holds an approval rating of 86%, based on 239 reviews, and an average rating of 7.5/10. Its consensus reads "The Nightingale definitely isn't for all tastes, but writer-director Jennifer Kent taps into a rich vein of palpable rage to tell a war story that leaves a bruising impact." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 77 out of 100, based on 35 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Marcella Papandrea from The Super Network said "There is no doubt The Nightingale won’t be an easy watch for most, but it is an important watch. Jennifer Kent has carefully and respectfully crafted a brutal story, spilling harsh truths along the way." 
The Nightingale received media attention following its initial screenings at the Sydney Film Festival, where approximately 30 out of 600 film-goers walked out of the theater due to its extreme depictions of rape and murder. One viewer was heard shouting "I'm not watching this; she's already been raped twice" as she exited the theater. Kent defended the decision to show such violence, saying that the film contains historically accurate depictions of the violence and racism which was inflicted upon the indigenous Australian people of that time. The film was produced in collaboration with Tasmanian Aboriginal elders who asserted that this is an honest and necessary depiction of their history and a story that needs to be told. Kent said she understands the negative reactions, but stated that she remains enormously proud of the film and stressed to audiences that this film is about "a need for love, compassion and kindness in dark times".
At the 2018 Venice film festival, an Italian film critic shouted a sexist comment when Kent's name appeared in the credits. It was similar to the slurs used against the film's protagonist. The Nightingale was the only film directed by a woman to be included in the festival's main competition.
|Best Film||Kristina Ceyton||Won|||
|Best Screenplay, Original or Adapted||Won|
|Best Actor||Baykali Ganambarr||Nominated|
|Best Actress||Aisling Franciosi||Won|
|Best Supporting Actor||Damon Herriman||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress||Magnolia Maymuru||Won|
|Best Cinematography||Radek Ladczuk||Nominated|
|Best Editing||Simon Njoo||Nominated|
|Best Sound||Leah Katz||Nominated|
|Best Production Design||Alex Holmes||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||Margot Wilson||Nominated|
|Best Hair and Makeup||Nikki Gooley||Nominated|
|Larry Van Duynhoven||Nominated|
|Best Casting||Nikki Barrett||Won|
|Best International Film||Pending|||