The Nightingale review – gut-churning colonial rape-revenge drama

In Jennifer Kent’s follow-up to The Babadook, set in 19th-century Tasmania, an Irishwoman seeks payback after being brutally gang-raped by British troopsJennifer Kent is the Australian actor-turned-director who in 2014 made a sensational feature debut with her cult horror classic The Babadook, about a child’a haunted storybook.

Now she has switched modes to a more obviously brutal and generically familiar kind of period Australian cinema, and for the first 20 minutes of The Nightingale, I missed the subtler, more sinuous and more contemporary kind of film-making of that first movie.The Nightingale initially feels like a rape-revenge horror heading one way and in one style.

But the power and sheer command of Kent’s direction enforced this film’s grip on me, along with the fluency and urgency of her storytelling, the eerily beautiful images of wilderness from cinematographer Radek Ładczuk and the fiercely committed performances of Aisling Franciosi

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