The Nightingale (2018)

There is a brutality at the heart of this film that’s unnerving.

It might be the first film I’ve seen that captures the viciousness needed to fuel colonialism. There’s nothing romantic about empire, the entitlement of the British, or the righteousness in their treatment of all they conquer. It’s staggeringly horrible.

Framed by this arrogance, an entitled British officer holds the papers on a young Irish convict woman, with a husband and infant son. The officer, treats her as his property, and rapes her. When the woman’s husband, ignorant of the attack, demands his wife’s papers, so they can go north, he gets into a fight with officer.

Outraged by this, the officer and two soldiers visit the woman. The ensuing punishment escalates beyond any kind of humanity. The woman is repeatedly raped, her husband is shot and killed, and their baby has its head smashed against the wall.

Leaving her for dead the three men start out for a distant town.

Traumatised and angry, she enlists the help of an aboriginal tracker, and sets out after them to take her revenge. I knew nothing about this film going in, and was surprised by just how powerful it is.

Not for the squeamish, or anyone easily offended, but definitely worth seeing.

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