The Nightingale

Photo by Matt Nettheim

Jennifer Kent was hot in Hollywood after the success of 2014’s The Babadook, and the Australian director could’ve made any number of classy genre films. Instead, she headed back home to helm this gorgeous grindhouse movie about an Irishwoman seeking revenge for her fallen family in the future Tasmania of 1825. There’s plenty of politics here, but Kent’s script mostly lets the historical aspect speak for itself. She’s too busy putting together a group of villainous creeps worthy of being tracked down by the vengeful femme and her Aboriginal guide (played by Baykali Ganambarr in an impressive debut). The plot is pretty much the same as the 1971 western Hannie Caulder, with just one irritating misstep. Raquel Welch’s character has to conquer her own squeamishness early in the movie. The Nightingale’s heroine, however, has an arthouse moment late in the film that sacrifices a lot of dramatic momentum amidst the mayhem. That’s nothing fatal, though. This follow-up to Kent’s directorial debut is still tough enough to keep her in demand for a return to Hollywood – although Ganambarr isn’t likely to come along for the fame that he deserves. Hollywood’s pretty racist.