Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale platformed in Los Angeles and New York last weekend, drawing sizable audiences and largely positive reviews from US critics.
US distributor IFC Films launched the female-driven revenge thriller at Arclight Hollywood and New York’s IFC Centre, grossing $US40,000, with sold-out shows on Friday and Saturday.
The 1825-set tale starring Aisling Franciosi, Sam Claflin, newcomer Baykali Ganambarr, Michael Sheasby, Damon Herriman, Harry Greenwood and Ewen Leslie will expand in both cities and open in Austin, Texas, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Boston on August 9.
Kristina Ceyton, who produced with Kent and Made Up Stories’ Bruna Papandrea and Steve Hutensky, tells IF the roll-out will encompass at least 100 screens over the next few weeks.
“The upcoming support we have from the exhibition community has been outstanding, with Landmark, AMC, Regal and Alamo all on board for this release, as well as top art houses like the Music Box and SIFF,” IFC Films’ Justin DiPietro told Deadline on Sunday morning.
“We’re all excited here with our initial opening and to be working again with such an outstanding filmmaker in Jennifer.”
IFC Films released Kent’s debut film The Babadook in the US, making nearly $US1 million. Transmission Films will launch The Nightingale on 32 screens on August 29.
Kent will participate in preview Q&A screenings in Sydney at Dendy Newtown and Chauvel Cinema on Sunday August 18 and Monday August 19, in Melbourne at Cinema Nova on August 20 and the following night at the State Cinema in Hobart.
The plot follows Franciosi as Clare, a 21-year-old Irish convict who chases British officer Hawkins (Claflin) through the Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family.
On the way she enlists the services of Aboriginal tracker Billy (Ganambarr), who is haunted by trauma from his own violence-filled past.
Franciosi confessed to feeling emotional as the film opened in the US, posting on Facebook: “I gave this film literally everything so to see it in theatres, when even getting an indie made is a miracle, feels pretty crazy.
“It has been a lesson in patience – to say the least. Shooting this film was one of the most challenging things I’ve done for many, many reasons but also the most satisfying. It’s an experience I’ll never forget with people I’ll never forget.”
The reviews have been predominantly positive since the world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival, as evidenced by the 79 per cent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The New York Times’ A.O. Scott hailed a movie “thick with horror and heavy with feeling” and a history lesson which is even more powerful as an ethical inquiry into the consequences of violence and the nature of justice.
Rolling Stone’s Pete Travers lauded the “extraordinary acting breakthrough” by Baykali Ganambarr and cinematographer Radek Ladczuk.
Travers quibbled with the multiple false endings but concluded: “As a devastating deconstruction of the complex nature of one woman’s retribution, The Nightingale is peerless.”