REVIEW: “THE NIGHTINGALE” (2019) IFC FILMS

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Has a film ever shook you to your core, I mean really shook you to the point where even months later, it still resonates with you when thinking of it?  Only a few films have done that for me, and the latest from the director who brought us ‘The Babadook’Jennifer Kent does exactly that.  She steps away from horror genre here with ‘THE NIGHTINGALE’ to give us almost a different type of terror. The real life kind, and with that she has created a film that will haunt you in a very different way. The only thing holding it back is the historical subject matter and the no-holds-barred approach that will surely limit its audience. From an emotional aspect, the film is extraordinarily uncomfortable and disturbing to watch; however, from a film making perspective, it’s a thing of beauty, with both sides of my brain being at war with it the entire time.

The film takes place in Tasmania in 1825, where an Irish convict Clare (Aisling Franciosi), is raped while her husband Aidan (Michael Sheasby) and infant child are murdered by corrupt and sadistic British officers Hawkins (Sam Clafin), Ruse (Damon Herriman) & Jago (Harry Greenwood), who pillage and plunder whomever and whatever they like.  Claire goes on a journey of vengeance to bring bloodshed to those responsible. She enlists the help of an Aboriginal man Billy (Baykali Ganambarr), who knows how to track in the wilderness. Together, the pair go through a tale of survival in the hopes of revenge and bringing justice to the men who have left a day prior.

The film is definitely going to split viewers due to its violent nature. There are a few scenes of detailed rape in it and murder that will be uncomfortable for some viewers as they are an extremely difficult to sit thru.  Otherwise the film is quite an engorging watch. Franciosi is a terrific lead, as well as Ganambarr is downright amazing in his performance.  Right after her rape, you see the strength in her character develop and the lengths she would go to bring justice. Her development is rapid but unwavering.

The film comes from a different time and place that we really know nothing about and its interesting to see a film depicting these events. It’s a gripping tale focused on the reaction to the deepest of personal loss. The reward is there for those brave enough to give it a watch.

Grade: B

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Media Review Screening ~ Courtesy of 42 West PR.

“THE NIGHTINGALE” IS OUT IN LIMITED RELEASE IN THE U.S.  // INTERNATIONAL RELEASE FOLLOWING

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REVIEW “HACKSAW RIDGE” (2016) Lionsgate

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Let’s start off by acknowleding that “HACKSAW RIDGE” is not for the faint of heart. It’s incredibly violent in its war scenes as it tells the story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), an Army medic that refused to carry a weapon as not a ‘conscientious objector’ but as a ‘conscientious participator.’ This, until now, untold story of Doss, is one that will stick with you long after the film is over.
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Of course you wonder going in can Mel Gibson redeem himself after so much has been made of his lack of judgment, drunken rants, and his anti-semitic rhetoric and in essence, being blackballed these last 10 yrs. as yes, though he is perfectly capable of doing so, it’s a long climb up.

Turns out it would be hard not to do with this story. The film starts in the sober times of WWII around 1944, Desmond Doss, the son of Tom Doss (Hugo Weaving), an alcoholic Army man who served in World War I and is suffering from what we now know is PTSD. Doss & his family, while patriots, are also devout Seventh-Day Adventist’s. His brother, Harold Doss (Nathaniel Buzolic) joins the Army leading Desmond to join also, against their father’s wishes, in the fight against Japanese in some of the final battles of WWII.
Doss is in love with Dorothy Schutte (Teresa Palmer, a nurse’s aide who is scared that she’ll never see him again, especially after the persecution he is sure to face when he refuses to touch a gun in training camp and is facing being court marshaled for this refusal by his commanding officers, Sergeant Howell (Vince Vaughn) & Captain Glover (Sam Worthington).
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From there we move onto who Doss actually becomes as he proceeds during the stand-off at ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ to show his true being and save as many lives as he possibly can while dodging bullets and hand grenades, all without a gun. There are moments you want to scream at him “Just pick the damn thing up” whereas at other you are with him 100% for not doing so. Not being religious myself, it would be hard not to realize both sides have their points which anyone, whether religious or not, can understand and decide on their own.

My only and very few beefs were: The beginning had a lot of fluff & cheesy-ness to it. Second: While I realize Mel is an Aussie, but to put so many Aussie & Brits as leads in a southern film trying to do southern accents, just doesn’t always quite go up to par and here was the same. As decent as most of the acting is, it’s still very detectable that they don’t have the accents down pat. We also at one point, lose the brother. He literally get’s up from dinner, and we never see him again, nor do we know what happened. Lastly, the supporting cast is truly amazing here and bring so much to this film, although the age-range of the actors might have been off some. They were starting off at playing young 19-22 yr. old’s and frankly almost all look quite a bit off that range including Garfield himself.
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As for the rest, truly I must say I don’t think anyone does battle scenes as well as Mel Gibson does. Again, It’s extremely violent and graphic as well, real war actually can be. I had to turn away a few times, but the story Gibson puts up there of all of the terribleness of war is just so well done. I was brought to tears when they quoted “During peacetime, sons bury their fathers, during war, fathers bury their sons.” It got me.

Conclusion: Many will walk into this film wanting to dislike just because of Gibson, most of them will walk out knowing they just saw a really good film.

Grade: B-
@pegsatthemovies

Review Screening: Wednesday, October 26, 2016 ~ Courtesy of LAFTV Meetup Group
Nationwide Release: Friday, November 4, 2016