The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)

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therewillbeblus
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The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)

#1 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Apr 27, 2019 2:22 pm

I’ll admit that I’m not exactly a fan of the rape-revenge genre, which certainly didn’t give this much of a chance for me. While I did appreciate Jennifer Kent taking on the genre as a woman and stripping down the sensationalized style a la Abel Ferrara of previous entries, this disappointingly didn’t cover new ground. The script was too on-the-nose in its themes of the commonalities of the oppressed, and the Hobbesian nature evil of the colonizing white male- which would have been more interesting if not for some terribly derivative and one-note dialogue and plot conventions. Save for some much appreciated natural humor between the two leads, this also has to be one of the bleakest, most disturbing movies I’ve ever seen (not hyperbole). There were plenty of walkouts by the 30-minute mark and I’d be surprised if any reasonably sized audience made it all the way through this together once it hits theatres in August. Kent is certainly a talented director, the cast and photography are solid, and some of the depictions of oppression were definitely powerful, even if many fell flat. However, ultimately whether or not you like this will depend on whether or not you like hyper-realistic feel-bad movies that don’t pull any punches in exposing a cynical worldview. [That’s not meant to be pejorative, I used to like those films but I guess at this point in my life if I’m going to feel bad I’d rather a film do it in a fresher way that feels less manipulative (i.e. Lilja 4-Ever)]. YMMV on this one as there’s a lot to admire on a technical level, and fans of the genre will likely praise it - however, if you think there’s a chance it may be too much for you, you’re almost certainly right.

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Re: The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)

#2 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Jun 11, 2019 11:10 am


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Re: The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)

#3 Post by ianthemovie » Tue Jun 11, 2019 6:04 pm

There were numerous walkouts at a film festival screening I attended back in April, along with a woman behind me who was very vocal about expressing her discomfort. At one point she began quite loudly sobbing. (She stayed 'til the end, though.) I thought the violence in it was justified but it is an unremittingly brutal movie.

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Re: The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)

#4 Post by ianungstad » Tue Jun 11, 2019 8:18 pm

I wonder if Criterion will want to eventually release this?

Shout! had signed a deal for the IFC Midnight tiles and Babadook was one of the first films to be released under that deal, so that was never going to happen.

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Orson Kane
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Re: The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)

#5 Post by Orson Kane » Wed Jun 12, 2019 6:23 pm

ianthemovie wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 6:04 pm
There were numerous walkouts at a film festival screening I attended back in April, along with a woman behind me who was very vocal about expressing her discomfort. At one point she began quite loudly sobbing. (She stayed 'til the end, though.) I thought the violence in it was justified but it is an unremittingly brutal movie.
Were there any moments of levity in it? The second part of the trailer seemed to show some banter between the two leads which suggested to me it was not as bleak as some of the reviews have suggested?

Was the direction, music choices, lighting etc. as top notch as the Babadook?

I'll definitely be seeing it, but should perhaps steel myself as I'm of a nervous, anxious disposition

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Re: The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)

#6 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Jun 12, 2019 6:52 pm

There were definitely some brief moments of humor between the two leads, which was very welcome, but this didn’t affect the mood enough to offer reprieve from the bleakness. The direction and form were good, but the more I think on it the more I hated the script which felt so full of predictable plot points and two-dimensional characters, particularly the villains, that undercut the themes Kent was clearly trying to build on. I liked The Babadook, and I can’t argue with ianthemovie that the violence could be justified, and served a very clear purpose (and Kent is quite bold for going to the lengths she did here), but the way the script treats half of its characters just took me out of this.

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Re: The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)

#7 Post by ianthemovie » Wed Jun 12, 2019 7:09 pm

Yes, as therewillbeblus said there are some moments of humor, and the rapport between the two main characters helps sustain our investment in the film. I suppose in hindsight the script is a little bit schematic, but personally I thought Kent did a good job attending to the nuances of colonialism, specifically to how race, class, and gender create(d) shifting power dynamics within a colonial environment.

As for the look of the film, it's much less stylized than The Babadook (which I loved), because she's going for a much more gritty realist aesthetic here. Overall I liked it quite a lot but it's sure to be a divisive one.

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Re: The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)

#8 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Jun 12, 2019 7:32 pm

ianthemovie wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 7:09 pm
I thought Kent did a good job attending to the nuances of colonialism, specifically to how race, class, and gender create(d) shifting power dynamics within a colonial environment.
I won’t dispute this, though I think it worked better at some times than others, and the elements that bothered me only magnified the uneven feeling of Kent’s success in these areas, likely rendering some effective moments less visible. A divisive film to be sure. However, two moments that really worked effectively were
SpoilerShow
the scene where they come across the chain gang of slaves and are unable to stop their slaughter, and the POV shot of the Aborigine woman as she’s assaulted staring up at the stars while the camera shakes to the movement of the rape.
Neither of these were “enjoyable” (actually two of the most disturbing moments in the film probably, after the triggering event that kicks off the plot) but are so powerful they aren’t likely to leave my mind anytime soon even as I forget the rest, and really serve as demonstrations for Kent’s skills and successful examples of the effect she was striving for in making this film.

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Re: The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)

#9 Post by Finch » Wed Jun 12, 2019 8:31 pm

Reading how uncompromising the film reportedly is makes me think Kent would have the right sensibility for Blood Meridian, especially when John Hillcoat who long expressed an interest in directing the McCarthy novel shied away from the most extreme elements of his other novel, The Road, when he adapted it.

It sounds like the film is very in your face, very blunt/confrontational about the treatment meted out to women and minorities in the colonies. By all accounts, Kent chose not to sugarcoat this stuff, at the risk of alienating a not insubstantial amount of her audience, and I not only tip my hat to her but am kind of amazed she got funding for such an uncompromising film, even with the success of The Babadook. I hope she is afforded that freedom for her future projects as well, and I look forward to seeing the film. One final note: IFC is releasing this on August 2 and this sounds nothing like a summer release. Someone at IFC must have funny ideas about counterprogramming!

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Re: The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)

#10 Post by Aunt Peg » Thu Jun 13, 2019 10:18 am

Finch wrote:
Wed Jun 12, 2019 8:31 pm
One final note: IFC is releasing this on August 2 and this sounds nothing like a summer release. Someone at IFC must have funny ideas about counterprogramming!
It's better than a later year release against all those Oscar bait films in the U.S. I'm afraid the film is doomed to fail everywhere - despite my own personal admiration of the film it is simply too polarising to attract any more than a niche audience. It's Australian release was pushed back from 26 January to an undetermined date because the distributor simply didn't know how to market it. Its now due to open in Australia in late August, however with all the controversy and free publicity the film has been getting in Oz at the moment they should bring it forward to late June.

And that poster is horrible.

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Re: The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)

#11 Post by Murdoch » Thu Jun 13, 2019 12:03 pm

To each their own, I love the poster.

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mfunk9786
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Re: The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)

#12 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Jun 13, 2019 12:03 pm

Same. It's rather stunning.

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Re: The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)

#13 Post by DarkImbecile » Thu Jun 13, 2019 12:14 pm

I like it too, though it suffers in comparison to Thelma’s similar and superior design:

Image

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Finch
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Re: The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)

#14 Post by Finch » Thu Jun 13, 2019 8:34 pm

Aunt Peg wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 10:18 am
It's Australian release was pushed back from 26 January to an undetermined date because the distributor simply didn't know how to market it. Its now due to open in Australia in late August.
It'd be interesting to see how they choose to market it. My memory of the IFC trailer is a bit vague but they kind of seem to tiptoe around the most controversial bits. I'm not sure whether to feel sorry for or jealous of anyone going into this film completely cold.

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Re: The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)

#15 Post by Aunt Peg » Fri Jun 14, 2019 2:22 am

Finch wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 8:34 pm
Aunt Peg wrote:
Thu Jun 13, 2019 10:18 am
It's Australian release was pushed back from 26 January to an undetermined date because the distributor simply didn't know how to market it. Its now due to open in Australia in late August.
It'd be interesting to see how they choose to market it. My memory of the IFC trailer is a bit vague but they kind of seem to tiptoe around the most controversial bits. I'm not sure whether to feel sorry for or jealous of anyone going into this film completely cold.
It will be interesting to see the marketing. I only watched the trailer after I'd seen the film so I think it clouds my judgement. I really do feel sorry for anyone who goes to it without knowing they are in for a very very tough 135 minutes that they cannot unsee. I went in knowing that it polarised people and even with that there was more than once that I simply wanted to film to end - Kent's use of sound is very effecting and when the film was over it was such a relief.

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Re: The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)

#16 Post by Finch » Fri Aug 02, 2019 5:54 pm


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Re: The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)

#17 Post by dda1996a » Sat Aug 03, 2019 3:48 am

I found the first hour of this to be really awful, and seeing I was in a festival and had more interesting films to watch, I walked out (only because I found the film bad, not because it's hard to watch). But I found the entire hour to be horribly written, with the most one note villians I've seen in a while. The "scene" at the start is so predictable and horribly made it just made me angry.
I don't mind brutal, but I found no need for so many repeated rape scenes and just general awfulness. Yes, the times were horrible in real life, but because everything felt so one note I couldn't find any more complicated reasoning for all the violence (compares to films like The Proposition, Irreversible and Craig Zahler's films for example of brutal films I do love)

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Re: The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)

#18 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Aug 03, 2019 11:16 am

dda, my thoughts exactly. It’s not the brutality but the weakness of the writing that makes it so meaningless, and I too was angry while watching. While there were one or two scenes in the second half you missed that were better than anything in the first, you also missed the most contrived moments that pick at the forced writing already exposed with frustrating delivery, so probably a good call.

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Re: The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)

#19 Post by dda1996a » Sat Aug 03, 2019 11:59 am

I'll probably finish watching it once it comes out on digital media, but it's content has been way overmarketed as tough. For anyone familiar with Haneke or Noe this is pretty benign

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Re: The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)

#20 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Aug 03, 2019 2:21 pm

I don’t agree to that extent, but think it’s an issue of finding merit in such “toughness.” In this film the brutality of its content is exposed in its disconnect to any interest or investment due to the poor writing, rendering it effective at being brutal and little else. While the violence in the films of the other artists may be just as brutal objectively, perhaps even more so (in the case of Noe), there is some other value to be found, whether thematically or in artistic form, that begets interest in their expositions that may amplify the effects of such violence for some viewers while lessening the tough impact for others, displacing it into a higher meaning and intent. This may very well be the point of this film, to divorce the violence from any other ideas, but it didn’t work for me and made the violence more unsettling (not in a good way, and yes I believe there’s a good way to be unsettled by violence) but because there was not enough merit in its purpose for me to sit through over two hours of it.

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Re: The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)

#21 Post by dda1996a » Sat Aug 03, 2019 2:29 pm

I was speaking very much on a surface level, but of course the deeper implications of Funny Games add to it's punch. What I meant is the word of mouth made this sound like an incredibly harrowing and bloody film (which it might be more in the second half), and I don't want to compare rape scenes, but nothing here matched the tunnel scene in Irreversible for example. Which added to it's superfluous feeling combined with the shallow script, hence my walk out

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Re: The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)

#22 Post by therewillbeblus » Sat Aug 03, 2019 2:37 pm

Ditto on Irreversible, and yeah it sounds like we disliked it for the same reasons. I don’t think it’s the most objectively surface-level disturbing film either but absent of merit, that brutality bothered me more than most on-screen violence. And I wouldn’t say the violence gets worse in the second half per se but some actions are so stupidly predictable that the movie certainly does.

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Re: The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)

#23 Post by nitin » Sun Aug 04, 2019 11:24 pm

It’s definitely well made, but some of the characterisations are way too schematically simplistic, which also makes some of the thematic points less interesting. As a visceral experience though, it largely works even though it is relentlessly gruelling.

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Re: The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent, 2019)

#24 Post by RSTooley » Wed Aug 07, 2019 7:07 pm

I cannot find a proper rebuttal for the criticism that this film was 'poorly written', so I won't even begin to challenge the perspective. The film is fantastic. The first two parts of the film felt so organic and real. Kent did such a fantastic job of creating a state of reality devoid of justice and hope. My qualms with the film only come about when I think about the third act. A few of the scenes seemed too choreographed... too forced. Otherwise, this is one of the better films I have seen all year. I'm really looking forward to what Jennifer Kent has lined up next.

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