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December 23, 2019 - admin - 0 comments - Filed Under: best of 2019   lists   movie news   movies   news   the nightingale - Share:

The Film Stage

19. Aisling Franciosi (The Nightingale)

Aisling Franciosi’s Clare faces a litany of unspeakable atrocities in the opening minutes of Jennifer Kent’s punishing 19th century excoriation, The Nightingale, but none is worse in her eyes than being compared to her reluctant Aboriginal companion, Billy (Baykali Ganambarr, who could have also made this list). That precarious balance of ingrained bigotry and murderous rage lays on the shoulders of Franciosi’s performance as she needs to realize this journey of retribution and enlightenment without ever rendering Clare’s dramatic arc as false sentiment or writerly contrivance. Kent’s touch is intentionally heavy, but Franciosi never bears the psychological weight as a cross to bear. Rather, it’s a performance of exploration and resistance, of inching back against a world that only has a vested interest in the existence of the falsely chosen. – Michael S. 

The Playlist

Honorable Mentions: This feature could have been, and nearly was, twice as long. Here are just a few of the year’s great performances that got benched at the very last minute because life is short and this role call of greatness is already too long: Ashton Sanders in “Native Son“; George McKay in “1917“; Jonathan Pryce in “The Two Popes“; Sofia Boutella in “Climax“; Robert Pattinson in “High Life” and “The Lighthouse“; Franz Rogowski in “Transit“; Noah Jupe in “Honey Boy“; Jonathan Majors in “The Last Black Man in San Francisco“; Aisling Franciosi in “The Nightingale“; Marianne Jean-Baptiste in “In Fabric“; August Diehl in “A Hidden Life“; and Gugu Mbatha Raw in “Fast Color.” Apologies to all of the above for the outrageous, undeserved snub, and thanks for some of the most moving and excellent performances of the year.

December 23, 2019 - admin - 0 comments - Filed Under: best of 2019   lists   movie news   movies   news   the nightingale - Share:

Ignored during an awards season or not, The Nightingale is one of the best movies of the year and the listings below prove it.

IndieWire – The 19 Best Movies of 2019

The Guardian – The 50 best films of 2019 in the UK

48. The Nightingale

Jennifer Kent follows up The Babadook with some real-life monsters: the men who ran Tasmania’s penal colonies in the 1820s – one of whom gets some grisly, if just, comeuppance in this gothic thriller.

Collider – Tom Reimann’s Top 10 Movies of 2019

4. The Nightingale

Ok, let’s get something out of the way right up front – The Nightingale is easily the darkest film I saw this year, and might be one of the darkest I’ve ever seen. Director Jennifer Kent’s follow-up to the cult hit The Babadook is a grim period revenge drama set in 19th century Tasmania (then Van Diemen’s Land), which was a British-occupied penal colony at the time. It stars Aisling Franciosi as Clare Carroll, an Irish convict working as a servant for the violent Lieutenant Hawkins (Sam Claflin). After a series of brutal events, Hawkins and his men depart for another post. Carol enlists the aid of an Aboriginal guide named Billy (Baykali Ganambarr) to track them down and kill them.

Kent’s film is bleak but gorgeously photographed, with excellent performances and particularly strong chemistry between Franciosi and Ganambarr. The film’s themes of systematic oppression and dehumanization are present in virtually every scene, predominantly in the casual cruelty inflicted with a grotesque air of entitlement by the fiendishly odious Hawkins and his men. Claflin’s performance would come across as almost cartoonishly evil if the horrors of colonialism weren’t so thoroughly documented. Kent rarely gives us a chance to breathe, but the few reprieves she does allow are profound moments of quiet dignity. It is not a film for everyone, but true to its title, The Nightingale is a beautiful song sung in the dark.

Parade – The 25 Best Movies of 2019

11. The Nightingale

Jennifer Kent‘s thunderous follow-up to The Babadook stars Aisling Franciosi as an imprisoned, abused Irish convict who sets out into the wilderness of 1825 Australia seeking vengeance. To be clear: The Nightingale is not a revenge fantasy; it’s a moral, humane exploration of themes that aren’t restricted to any particular time and place. It’s not easy viewing—it’s as much a series of events you experience as it is a movie you watch—but storytelling this clear-eyed and urgent doesn’t come around all that often, and demands to be seen. Kent does not make compromises in telling challenging, impactful stories. She’s one of the most exciting filmmaking talents around right now.

CBS News – The Best Movies of 2019

16. The Nightingale (Metascore: 77)

This drama, set in 1825, about a young convict (Clare Carroll) who seeks revenge, “isn’t an easy cinematic experience, but if you can handle it, it’s an unforgettable one,” says Entertainment Weekly.

Chicado Tribune – The best movies of 2019

18. The Nightingale

AP News – The Best Movies of 2019

10. The Nightingale

Jennifer Kent’s harrowing film about a young Irish woman on a quest for revenge in 1825 Tasmania contains one of the most shocking depictions of violence I’ve ever seen — so disturbing that I found myself looking for the door — and yet her film, which wants the viewer to be challenged by its violence, hate and ultimately empathy, is one that not only provokes, but sticks.

Los Angeles Times – Justin Chang’s best movies of 2019 – Honorable Mention

10. The Nightingale

Junkee – The 20 Best Films Of 2019

14. The Nightingale

The Nightingale is absolutely brutal: as well-reported, its first fifteen minutes feature a sexual assault so horrific that hordes of people walked from its debut at Sydney Film Festival. But a film about colonial Tasmania needs to disturb, otherwise it’s not about colonial Tasmania, a site of Indigenous genocide.

Directed by The Babadook‘s Jennifer Kent, The Nightingale is also a film of internal trauma. When Irish convict Clare (Aisling Franciosi) is attacked by a British officer and left with nothing, she vows revenge. Enlisting a local Indigenous tracker, Billy (Baykali Ganambarr), Clare follows the officer through the Tasmanian bush.

Only brutality follows, as Billy and Clare head towards a revenge without any possibility for reparations; everything is already lost. The film finds similarities in their oppression, but Indigenous dispossession and mass-murder is never equated to convict treatment: the link is in their mutual enemy, though the power imbalance is always present. The Nightingale isn’t about overcoming racism or Clare losing her own prejudices — it is a cry of defiance from voices long silenced.

The Guardian – The Best Australian Films of the Year

2. The Nightingale

To express the power and impact of the writer-director Jennifer Kent’s second feature film (following the brilliant The Babadook) one naturally feels inclined to reach towards turns of phrase such as “gut-churning” or “soul-bruising” or “holy hell this film hurts”. Anything to make the point that this unforgettable revenge movie – set in 19th century Tasmania and following an Irish convict (Aisling Franciosi) as she tracks down a diabolical lieutenant (Sam Clafin) – packs one almighty punch.

In addition to its brutality, the film is utterly elegant in construction, Kent juggling many elements including the painterly boxed-in cinematography of Radek Ladczuk – presented in 4:3 aspect ratio – and a haunting score from Jed Kurzel.

The Film Stage – Where to Stream the Best Films of 2019

The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent)

Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale features some of the most atrocious on-screen violence in recent memory. It is a cauldron of blood, murders, and rapes so unflinching in vividness and brutality as to make it impossible to go through its 136 minutes without ever turning away from the screen, let alone to come out of it untouched. But it is also, in a way that’s indissolubly bound to role that violence plays in Kent’s work, and to the depiction she offers of it, one of the most memorable works in its genre – a parable that never turns violence into a spectacle, but is resolutely committed to expose the poisonous double prism of racism and sexism it feeds upon.

Where to Stream: Hulu, Amazon, iTunes, Google

Austin Chronicle – Matthew Monagle’s Top 10 Films of 2019

5. The Nightingale

Arguably the year’s toughest watch (in a good way).

City Beat – Top 10 Films of 2019

10. The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent)

With the twitchy shocks of The Babadook in mind, audiences were not ready for the latest release from Australian writer/director Jennifer Kent. Not exactly leaving behind the horror genre, The Nightingale sharpens the focus by thrilling us with a tale about an Irish convict (Aisling Franciosi) seeking revenge on the British officer (Sam Claflin) and his underlings who took all that was precious from her. The proceedings are what happen to a restless and vengeful spirit in the toll of such dogged pursuit.

Concrete Playground

The Nightingale

Back in 2018, after The Nightingale first screened for media at the Venice Film Festival, it hit headlines. Barely a handful of people had seen it, but word of its tough nature spread quickly — as did news of vocal reactions and walkouts. Such reports would only continue as the film toured the festival circuit overseas and in Australia; however Jennifer Kent’s second feature after The Babadook wants to evoke that response. Tracking an Irish convict (Aisling Franciosi) on a quest for revenge against the British soldier (Sam Claflin) who brutally took away everything she loved, and following her trek through Van Diemen’s Land with an Indigenous guide (Baykali Ganambarr), this isn’t meant to be an easy watch. Clawing through the misogyny, racism and oppression baked into Australia’s history, and the violence with which it has been dispensed, should leave a visceral impact. Making a different kind of horror movie, Kent uses every tool at her disposal to put viewers in her protagonists’ shoes, including a boxed-in 4:3 aspect ratio that stares at assault, death and more front-on. The results don’t just leave an imprint — they leave a scar.

20. The Nightingale

What we said: “A director does not win feminist points by cancelling out a sexist element in their film with an engineered “clapback”. The Nightingale is a refreshing, necessary reminder that sexual violence isn’t just a trendy topic that exists solely in the abstract, but is primarily something experienced which cannot be reduced to a film trope or easily prevented in real life.”

91. The Nightingale

Critics Consensus: The Nightingale definitely isn’t for all tastes, but writer-director Jennifer Kent taps into a rich vein of palpable rage to tell a war story that leaves a bruising impact.

NME – The best films of 2019

19. The Nightingale

Director: Jennifer Kent

If you’re feeling at all fragile, do not watch this movie. Perhaps the worst hangover film you could possibly choose, The Nightingale revolves around the most shocking sequence you’ll see on screen this year. Without spoiling what happens too much, rape, murder and infanticide all feature. Later, the victim of these crimes, a young Irish convict woman called Clare (Aisling Franciosi), treks across the 19th Century Tasmanian wilderness in pursuit of her tormentor – a British Army officer (Sam Claflin) with the meanest of mean streaks. Definitely the most divisive film on this list, The Nightingale won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but stick with it and there’s a gripping historical revenge thriller to be discovered.

Best moment: The scene where Hawkins (Claflin) takes his anger out on Clare isn’t enjoyable, but it’s certainly memorable. Some won’t be able to watch, but if you do, the images will be seared onto your brain for days afterwards. AF

Like this, try this: The Babadook, Revenge

The Sydney Morning Herald – The top 10 movies of 2019

03. The Nightingale

It’s little wonder people stormed out of The Nightingale: the first 20 minutes of Jennifer Kent’s colonial-era revenge tale are among the most harrowing you will ever see on screen, featuring degradation, rape and murder. Not that it’s exactly sunny after that, with Irish convict Clare (Aisling Franciosi) setting out to track the perpetrators of this violence with the aid of a reluctant Aboriginal tracker (Baykali Ganambarr). Set in 1825 Tasmania, this is an utterly unflinching look at white Australia’s origin story, in which dispossession, violence and class provide the parchment on which the myth of the lucky country is writ. Yes it’s hard to watch, but it’s the most honest and important Australian film in years – and a cracking thriller to boot. KQ

Houston Chronicle – The 13 Best Movies of 2019

13. The Nightingale

Australian director Jennifer Kent’s brutal story of revenge set in a 19th-century Tasmanian penal colony — in which a female Irish indentured servant and an Aboriginal man track down her English “owner” who killed both her husband and child and raped her — is not an easy watch, especially in its first half-hour. But Kent’s mastery of cinematic craft and storytelling (which she had showed off previously with “The Babadook”) doesn’t allow her to just wallow in gore. It doesn’t end as well as it starts but it’s still a gut-punch.

Joblo – Best Movies of 2019

16. The Nightingale

Much like Eggers coming off THE WITCH and into THE LIGHTHOUSE, a lot of eyes were on Jennifer Kent for her post-BABADOOK feature, THE NIGHTENGALE. Tackling a horror of a very different sort, her new movie is set in 1825 and centers on a young woman, Clare, (Aisling Franciosi) who is sexually assaulted and made to watch her husband and baby killed. Soon after, she picks herself back up and heads onto the road to hunt down the men who took away everything from her (Sam Claflin, Damon Herriman). Showing and addressing rape in the way Kent does is no easy maneuver, but unlike exploitation movies of the past, she doesn’t revel in the horror, but uses it as a springboard to tell a story of revenge and discovering what kind of person you really are after a tragedy occurs. Laced in is an examination of social and racial issues prevalent in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) at the time, with an Aboriginal man named “Billy” (Baykali Ganambarr) helping her track them down. Long, dour, violent, difficult to watch but emotionally rewarding in the end, THE NIGHTENGALE finds Kent pushing herself through challenging material that will no doubt put many at an unease they may never get over, but she comes out the other end an even more mature director. Fransciosi should also be in awards talk for her role, giving a powerhouse performance that puts her through unbelievable ringers. Ganambarr, Claflin, and Herriman are also great in the movie, which no doubt thanks to the subject matter didn’t even make $1 million by the end of its limited theatrical run, despite positive buzz out of Sundance. It’s a rough movie, to be sure, but by the end, the sheer emotional power of it rises well above the harder material.

ComingSoon – Top 10 Films of 2019

06. The Nightingale

The Babadook’s Jennifer Kent showed her versatility outside the horror genre with this weighty, unwavering story of revenge for a truly heinous crime in 19th century Tasmania. Aisling Franciosi is riveting in the lead role and Sam Claflin dares to be truly repugnant, but it’s Baykali Ganambarr as Aboriginal tracker Billy who is the heart of the film.

December 20, 2019 - admin - 0 comments - Filed Under: movie news   movies   Netflix   news   Unforgiven - Share:

Great news! Aisling will join Sandra Bullock and Viola Davis in a new movie. The news is from Collider.

Oscar winner Viola Davis, Mudbound star Rob Morgan and The Nightingale breakout Aisling Franciosi have joined the cast of Sandra Bullock‘s new Netflix movie based on the British miniseries Unforgiven, Collider has learned.

Nora Fingscheidt, who made her directorial debut with Germany’s current Oscar entrant System Crasher, will direct the untitled feature, which was written by Oscar winner Christopher McQuarrie. Graham King is producing under his GK Films banner, while Bullock will produce via Fortis Films, and Veronica Ferres will produce via Construction Film. Executive producers include Nan Morales, Nicola Shindler, Sally Wainwright and Colin Vaines.

Bullock will play Ruth Slater, a woman who’s released from prison after serving a sentence for a violent crime, only to re-enter a society that refuses to forgive her past. Facing severe judgment from the place she once called home, Ruth’s only hope for redemption is finding the estranged younger sister she was forced to leave behind.

Sources say that Franciosi will play Bullock’s younger sister, while Davis and Morgan have been cast as a couple of lawyers who move into Bullock’s old home.

In addition to delivering one of the year’s best performances in Jennifer Kent‘s revenge movie The Nightingale, Franciosi played Lyanna Stark on Game of Thrones, and will soon be seen alongside Mark Ruffalo in Derek Cianfrance‘s HBO series I Know This Much Is True.

December 20, 2019 - admin - 0 comments - Filed Under: awards   lists   movie news   movies   news   the nightingale - Share:

2019 Critics Poll: The Best Films and Performances according to 304 film critics from around the world

Rankings were determined from percentages based on how highly critics ranked films and performances on their individual lists.

 

BEST ACTRESS

  • 15. Aisling Franciosi, “The Nightingale”

BEST MOVIES

The Nightingale is one of the top 50 films of the year.

  • 36. “The Nightingale”
December 20, 2019 - admin - 0 comments - Filed Under: awards   movie news   movies   news   nominations   the nightingale - Share:

All nominations and awards for The Nightingale and Aisling on the critics circuit.

 

DFCS – Detroit Film Critics Society – Nominated

BREAKTHROUGH

  • Aisling Franciosi, Actress (The Nightingale)

Chicago Critics Film – WINNER

MOST PROMISING PERFORMER

  • Aisling Franciosi, The Nightingale-WINNER

WOMEN FILMS CRITICS CIRCLE (WFCC) – Nominations AND Winners

BEST MOVIE BY A WOMAN

  • The Nightingale (Jennifer Kent)

BEST WOMAN STORYTELLER [Screenwriting Award]

  • Jennifer Kent (The Nightingale)

BEST ACTRESS

  • Aisling Franciosi (The Nightingale)

ADRIENNE SHELLY AWARD: For a film that most passionately opposes violence against women

  • The Nightingale (dir. Jennifer Kent)-WINNER

KAREN MORLEY AWARD: For best exemplifying a woman’s place in history or society, and a courageous search for identity

  • The Nightingale (dir. Jennifer Kent)

The 2019 Indiana Film Journalists Association (IFJA) – Nominated

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Jennifer Kent, The Nightingale

BEST ACTRESS

  • Aisling Franciosi, The Nightingale

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Sam Claflin, The Nightingale
  • Baykali Ganambarr, The Nightingale

BREAKOUT OF THE YEAR

  • Aisling FranciosiThe Nightingale (actress)

The Dublin Film Critics Circle 2019 awards – Winner

BREAKTHROUGH PERFORMANCE 2019
Aisling Franciosi, The Nightingale

As new nominations and awards are announced this post will be updated.

December 20, 2019 - admin - 0 comments - Filed Under: awards   movie news   movies   news   the nightingale - Share:
One of the most traditional critics organizations the National Board of Review has released its annual list of best films and The Nightingale is in the ‘10 Best Independent Films of the Year’ category.
Top 10 Independent Films
“The Farewell”
“Give Me Liberty”
“A Hidden Life”
“Judy”
“The Last Black Man in San Francisco”
“Midsommar”
“The Nightingale”
“The Peanut Butter Falcon”
“The Souvenir”
“Wild Rose”
Winners will be recognized at a gala on January 8, 2020 at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York, hosted by Willie Geist.
December 20, 2019 - admin - 0 comments - Filed Under: AACTAs   awards   movie news   movies   news   the nightingale   videos - Share:

Aisling Franciosi’s star continues to rise after the actress claimed a massive win at the Australian Academy Awards for her role as a blood-thirsty Irish convict.

On what was a glitzy affair at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards ceremony (AACTA) in Sydney, the Dubliner took home the prized Best Actress gong for her role in the Tasmanian revenge film The Nightingale.

Taking to social media after the incredible win, the 28-year-old said she ‘couldn’t be prouder’ of the production team behind her.

Playing an Irish convict opposite Sam Claflin, Franciosi is involved in some harrowing scenes as her character chases down a British officer in the Tasmanian wilderness.

She has admitted that certain scenes were difficult to pull back from between takes.

‘The material was really, really sensitive and very difficult,’ she told RTE.

‘I was just surprised at, and thankfully I had Sam to help me through it, how difficult I found it to maintain my composure in between takes on certain brutal scenes.

‘That was something I never had to grapple with before. I definitely was a little bit shocked at how difficult I found it to disengage from it [filming].’

The Jennifer Kent directed period movie, which follows a young Irish convict as she seeks to exact revenge in the 1800s, was also a big winner in its own right at the AACTA.

In all, The Nightingale nabbed awards for Best Picture, screenwriting, directing, casting and a Best Supporting Actress prize for Magnolia Maymuru.

December 20, 2019 - admin - 0 comments - Filed Under: awards   Events   movie news   movies   news   the nightingale   videos - Share:

The Nightingale dominated the Australian Academy of Motion Picture and Television (AACTA) annual awards at a ceremony in Sydney on Wednesday, (December 03).

The Nightingale won in six categories, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Lead Actress, the latter for Aisling who unfortunately could not attend the awards but she made a video with her speech. See all the winning categories below and below the award videos.

  • Best PictureThe Nightingale
  • Best DirectorJennifer Kent
  • Best ScreenplayJennifer Kent  – The Nightingale
  • Best Lead ActressAisling Franciosi – The Nightingale
  • Best Supporting ActressMagnolia Maymuru – The Nightingale
  • Best Casting Nikki Barrett – The Nightingale

Aisling Franciosi wins Best Lead Actress | 2019 AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel
Jennifer Kent wins Best Direction for THE NIGHTINGALE | 2019 AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel
THE NIGHTINGALE wins Best Screenplay | 2019 AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel
THE NIGHTINGALE wins Best Film | 2019 AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel
Exclusive Peek back stage with the Winners of The Nightingale AACTAs 2019

December 20, 2019 - admin - 0 comments - Filed Under: Links   movie news   movies   news   review   the nightingale - Share:

‘The Nightingale’ has recently hit British theaters and below you’ll find a compilation of what British critics are saying.

⭐⭐⭐⭐ The Times

“Aisling Franciosi is astounding”

“It’s serious film-making, worthy of attention”

⭐⭐⭐⭐ The Guardian

“Fiercely committed performances of Aisling Franciosi in the lead and of the indigenous Australian actor Baykali Ganambarr”

“The intelligence of Kent’s direction and the humanity she reveals in both Clare and Billy give the film its arrowhead of power”

⭐⭐⭐⭐ The Independent

“Franciosi’s ability to transform from a warm, loving woman into a hollow shell is remarkable”

“A brutal, unflinching look at colonialism’s darkest impulses”

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Flickering Myth

“Francoisi, anchors the film, offering a harrowing performance that in any just world would’ve been met with Oscar buzz – it’s the dramatic equivalent of further tearing an already open wound, pain writ large across the screen”

“The Nightingale remains a challenging, deliberately difficult piece of art”

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Empire

“Franciosi gives a tough, deeply vulnerable performance that can’t have been much fun to film. But she’s superb, and immediately compelling in a complex role”

“You can’t deny the profound power of this kind of filmmaking”

“Ganambarr, is extraordinary, in a performance that manages to be both darkly funny and flooringly heartbreaking”

“Not for the faint-hearted — and even the tough-hearted might struggle in a few places. But this uncompromising, unflinching meditation on violence should be seen as widely as possible.”

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Time Out

“The Nightingale’ isn’t a ghost story, but its characters are deeply haunted. This is a world gone wrong, where innocent settlers are slaughtered in their sleep, genocide is a casual trigger-pull, and death means a dozen stabs in the chest followed by a dozen blows to the face. But, remarkably, against all odds, the film is not without hope. Throughout all the persecution and trauma, there’s resilience and the promise of a new dawn”

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Radio Times

“Franciosi is a revelation as Clare, her cherubic features belying a transformation into a veritable Tasmanian she-devil”

“it’s beautifully composed and the relationship between the damaged duo is movingly teased out”

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Evening Standard

“Outback trauma – then sweet revenge”

“The most shocking thing about this shocking film? When it was over, I felt like I’d been released from a warm hug. Kent’s yummily disturbing debut The Babadook was a love story between a single mum and her “problem” child. This is a love story too.”

The Mirror

“Aisling Franciosi delivering a heartbreaking performance”

“The Nightingale is a brutal and haunting watch that will stay long in your memory even after the credits stop rolling in its dark examination of colonial evil”

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Critical Popcorn

“Beautiful, lyrical film that’s also brutal and visceral”.

“Aisling perfomance is “breathtaking” while Baykali Ganambarr is a “revalation”.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐  Little White Lies

“A fearless, breathtaking masterpiece”

“A refreshing, necessary reminder that sexual violence isn’t just a trendy topic that exists solely in the abstract”

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Irish Times

“This is an extraordinary film, powered by political and historical fury”

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ RTE Ireland

“Aisling Franciosi is unforgettable”

“Aisling Franciosi deliver a career-making performance”

“Franciosi’s brilliant work is matched by a cast-against-type Claflin, while newcomer Ganambarr’s portrayal of Indigenous suffering and power is simply stunning.”

“Kent’s work is near-perfect.”

⭐⭐⭐⭐ Female First

“Franciosi is a stellar actress, giving the performance of a lifetime from start to finish

The writing and high-class performances from every member of its cast, make it a must-see for anybody who’s a fan of a period drama, action and suspense

December 19, 2019 - admin - 0 comments - Filed Under: black narcissus   interviews   movies   the nightingale - Share:

Interview with Aisling for The Irish Times

FOR THE IRISH-ITALIAN ACTOR, WORKING ON HER LATEST FILM, THE NIGHTINGALE, WAS EMOTIONALLY  WRENCHING. IT LEFT HER WITH A SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY TOWARDS VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE

We must resist the temptation to say that Aisling Franciosi is everywhere. It’s about to feel that way, but the Irish-Italian actor – she nods to both nationalities – has ridden the peaks and troughs of her precarious business. A little over a year ago, her gut-wrenching performance in Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale knocked the Venice Film Festival sideways. As we meet, she’s shooting the juiciest role in a BBC adaptation of Rumer Godden’s Black Narcissus. There is, however, no sense of complacency.

“After The Nightingale, I got one more job and then I had a horrible year – until July of last year,” she says. “You work solidly for seven years and then there’s a dry spell. That was interesting. The Nightingale was getting a lot of attention and people were saying: ‘You’re having such a busy year.’ But I wasn’t actually working.”

People say: ‘If you have positive thoughts, that’s going to affect how you feel.’ The same is true if you are putting yourself in negative feelings for 16 hours a day. I was pretty exhausted by the end of the shoot

At any rate, The Nightingale is finally here to unsettle and engage brave audiences. Kent’s follow-up to The Babadook casts Franciosi as an Irish immigrant to Tasmania who, after a brutal rape, follows her assailant through rough terrain towards a horrific reckoning. Along the way, she gains an understanding of connections between the colonised Irish and the indigenous peoples of Australia. The consistently strong reviews all focused on the ruthless integrity of Franciosi’s performance. It was an emotionally wrenching experience.

“I had played traumatising roles before, but I had been able to leave the work behind when I went home,” she says. “But this was a whole different experience. The material is very heavy in terms of the violence against women and the racially motivated violence. I had nine months between getting the role and shooting. I did a lot of research. I worked with a clinical psychologist. She had worked with the script since the beginning. She facilitated me meeting real victims of domestic violence.”

Franciosi explains that this experience left her with a sense of responsibility towards those victims. She wanted to honour their stories. She didn’t want to trivialise or sensationalise the experience of sexual assault.

“We are in this era of ‘mindfulness’ now,” she says. “People say: ‘If you have positive thoughts, that’s going to affect how you feel.’ The same is true if you are putting yourself in negative feelings for 16 hours a day. I was pretty exhausted by the end of the shoot.”

The rape is hard to watch. So are subsequent beatings and killings. Set in 1825, The Nightingale concerns itself with the roughest frontiers of the British Empire. Society (such as it is) exists amid filth and brutality. Indeed, the film is sufficiently arresting to have generated one backhanded honour: a preposterous scare story in the Daily Mail. Last summer the paper told us that “viewers walk[ed] out of gruesome horror film The Nightingale at Sydney Film Festival”. The piece went on offer no real evidence that “the majority of the sold-out audience . . . felt the historical drama went too far.”

We can probably dismiss that (it’s not a horror film, for starters). But it is reasonable to ask if Franciosi was comfortable with the explicit violence.

I had one woman in her 40s come up and say: ‘As a victim of sexual violence, I now feel understood’

“I didn’t have concerns,” she says. “I knew it would hit people hard and maybe be too much for people. If someone has been through something and they want to leave, that is understandable. That’s fine. We wanted to make sure that if we are making a film about violence you had better feel the emotional impact of that. There are so many films that are violent, but that are set up in a comical way or in a way that allow you to disengage.”

There have been emotional scenes at the end of some screenings.

“Some people have walked out,” she says. “Others have come up to us afterwards and thanked us for showing the effects of PTSD. I had one woman in her 40s come up and say: ‘As a victim of sexual violence, I now feel understood.’”

Now 26, Franciosi speaks with great articulacy about these issues. Her accent is unmistakably Irish, but, resident in New York for five years, she has picked up a few American inflections. There are worse things than being from everywhere. Born in Dublin, daughter of an Irish mother and an Italian dad, she moved with the family to Italy in 1993, but came back four years later when her parents separated. I wonder how she describes herself. Is she Irish? Is she Italian? I guess, like most of us, she’s some class of hyphenate.

“I always mention both,” she says. “My formative years were spent in Dublin. I always feel the need to add: ‘But I am also Italian!’ My mum cooks Italian. I always had a good relationship with my dad. I went back a lot. So I always feel connected to Italy.”

Actors with similarly complex backgrounds often claim that they profit from the variety of voices spinning round their brains. The job involves shifting from one persona to the next. So it can only help if you have lived in different environments and tasted other cultures. Or does it? I’m not sure I am making sense here.

“I’m not sure I have a great answer to that,” she says tolerantly. “From an acting point of view, it helps that I studied languages. I love that. I love the structure of language. When I connect to a script it’s usually because of language. When people see me speak Italian they say: ‘Your whole body changes.’ So there is something in that.”

Such a mix of cultures would once have seemed exotic in Ireland, but I’m betting that, by the time she got to Trinity College Dublin, we were all blase about that sort of thing.

“Yeah, I never really felt exotic,” she says. “When you are used to being who you are you don’t think about it. Maybe in the States that’s still true. They are still impressed by someone from Europe who speaks another language. Ha ha!”

Franciosi did a speech and drama class when she was six and was immediately hooked. She came straight home and told her mother that she was going to be an actor. She admits her parents probably wished she’d chosen something a little less precarious and remembers them being relieved that she stuck to her studies, got a good Leaving Certificate and entered Trinity to study Italian and Spanish. She was, however, always on the lookout for acting jobs. A role in A Christmas Carol at The Gate breached the wall. A strong part opposite Jamie Dornan in the BBC’s The Fall widened the opening.

LA is not the city for me. I don’t love being in a city that is so dominated by the entertainment industry

“Getting The Fall was so cool. It was my first thing in TV. I was still in college. I dropped out . . . Well, actually, I didn’t really drop out; I was given an ultimatum,” she says slightly shamefacedly.

Notwithstanding the quiet periods discussed above, she seems to have made good on that semi-voluntary expulsion. Dark, with a strong, rich speaking voice (and, as demonstrated in The Nightingale, a sure way with a tune), Franciosi is the sort of flexible leading actor casting directors crave. She remains, however, impressively realistic about the challenges faced and overcome. She was here. She was there. She now sounds settled in New York.

“I had been in London for five years and then I did go to LA for a while,” she says. “I have friends there. There are things about it that I like. But it is not the city for me. I don’t love being in a city that is so dominated by the entertainment industry. But it’s easier now with self-taping for auditions. It’s easier to get cast. When I didn’t click with LA, I thought: I will go to New York. It is six hours from LA and six hours from London. It works.”

Following that iffy period after The Nightingale, Franciosi finds herself in an indecently exciting new role. Rumer Godden’s novel Black Narcissus, concerning squabbling nuns in the Himalayas, was a sensation in the pre-war years, but is now best known as the inspiration for Michael Powell’s immortal 1947 film. In the BBC’s new take, Gemma Arterton succeeds Deborah Kerr as the uncertain Sister Clodagh. Diana Rigg is Mother Superior. Franciosi takes over from Kathleen Byron as the sexually voracious, demented Sister Ruth. What a legacy.

“I put the film out of my mind as much as possible,” she says. “I was a bit nervous about watching it. I eventually did and it is amazing, but it is very much of its time. So that set my mind at rest a little. I have to give it my own take.”

The location shoot in rural Nepal is over – a week away from phone and internet service, she tells me – and, as we talk, she is taking breaths between calls to the London set. Contracts are about to be concluded for an exciting, still-secret job coming her way in February. And so the rollicking journey continues.

“When I was younger, I spent a while working in a cafe in Foxrock,” she remembers. “I did a few jobs where I had to live on those savings. Then I was able to replenish them.”

There’s a lesson here.

“People ask for advice and I say: ‘If you can save anything then try and save. Save!’”

Things they don’t teach you at Rada.

The Nightingale is in cinemas now.