CREDIT: IFC Films/YouTube Screenshot

Brutal. So brutal. Has there ever been a movie as brutal as The Nightingale?

It is undoubtedly well-crafted and undeniably well-acted, but is that good enough to justify the brutality? Could it ever possibly be good enough?

Here’s what happens: an Irish woman who’s been convicted of theft and taken to Tasmania, Australia in 1825 is raped multiple times by the English officer who is basically her slave master. Then she watches as her husband and baby are suddenly killed. With the help of an Aboriginal tracker, she then sets out on a revenge mission, and along the way, there are more rapes and murders, as well as a liberal dash of stabbing and blunt force trauma. The total disregard for the lives of women, people of color, and young children is stunning, but considering human history, not exactly shocking. But thankfully it is clear that writer/director Jennifer Kent is giving narrative precedence to the abused and exploited. Ultimately, this fits in a cinematic tradition that is fundamentally unenjoyable but an important corrective for those whose stories have been wiped out.

I give The Nightingale My Understanding for Why It Must Exist.