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10th Jun 2019

Viewers walk out of cinema in disgust at new thriller The Nightingale

Wayne Farry

the nightingale

The film was premiering at the Sydney Film Festival

A number of attendees at the Sydney Film Festival’s premiere of the new Australian historical thriller The Nightingale walked out within the first hour due to the gratuity of the scenes involved.

The film, a period revenge thriller set in 1825, is the second film by director Jennifer Kent, whose first film was the in no way gentle or easy to watch The Babadook.

The Nightingale centres on Clare, a young Irish convict, as she chases a British officer through the Tasmanian wilderness, seeking revenge for an act of violence he committed against her family.

She is helped through the wilderness by Billy, an Aboriginal tracker, who is also suffering from the effects of a traumatic past.

The film has been extremely well received by critics after appearing at a number of international film festivals, with many praising it as an interesting take on the revenge thriller genre, as well as being an earnest and unpolished look at the crimes of British colonialists.

However, some critics, as well as members of the audience at the Australian premiere, felt that the level of violence – including against woman, babies and indigenous people – was over the top.

It reportedly features three rape scenes in the first 20 minutes. reported one woman in attendance at the premiere saying, as there was a lull in proceedings: “She’s already been raped, we don’t need to see it again.”

“Vacuum-packing a non-stop supply of rapes, deaths and beatings into more than two hours is needlessly punishing and comes at the expense of character and story,” New York Post critic Johnny Oleksinski wrote.

“Constantly having to shield your eyes from horrible imagery — as the Sundance audience was — would seem to defy the whole point of watching a movie.”