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When Jennifer Kent’s first feature, “The Babadook,” premiered at Sundance, she was greeted as the year’s breakout auteur. In the fall of 2018, when “The Nightingale” premiered in Venice, she faced a very different reaction.
“It was awful,” the Australian director said, reflecting on the experience a year later. “My gender overtook my film. It still mystifies me.”
Woman - Director - Venice - Competition - Kent
As the only woman director in Venice’s competition, Kent faced a harsh response to her movie that overwhelmed the work itself. And “The Nightingale” deserves better: Like “The Babadook,” it’s a mesmerizing immersion into one woman’s broken life, and her capacity to wrestle control of it. But in other ways, it’s a dramatic expansion of her talent, confronting the country’s centuries of racism and misogyny through a visceral lens, and the ultimate mission statement from a filmmaker who could have easily been devoured by the Hollywood machine.
'The Babadook' Director Jennifer Kent Says Her Film's Gay Icon Status Is 'Charming'
Hauntings - Babadook - Period - Piece - Unfolds
Unlike the eerie hauntings of “The Babadook,” this masterful Australian period piece unfolds in colonial Australia circa 1825, as Irish convict Clare (Aisling Franciosi), sentenced to indentured servitude, survives a harrowing rape and embarks on a dizzying quest for revenge. After her husband and newborn child are murdered by her assaultive master, a British officer (Sam Claflin), Clare joins forces with a reticent aboriginal guide (Baykali Ganambarr) on a perilous trip across dense forestry to track down the man who ruined her life.
The movie blends the grand tapestry of a historical epic with the intimate travails of its victim as she comes to grips with her situation; the visuals oscillate from sweeping landscapes to gothic nightmares as Clare comes closer to confronting her target.
Far more than a rape-revenge story, “The Nightingale” allows the filmmaker to expand on motifs of violence and psychological turmoil without repeating...
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