First things first: be warned, it's a rough watch. Wonderfully shot and featuring great performances all around (Aisling Franciosi is phenomenal in the central role), writer/director Jennifer Kent (‘The Babadook') uses ‘The Nightingale' to deliver a narrative that portrays some of the truly heinous crimes perpetrated by the English during the colonisation of Australia when it was basically just one giant prison full of unsavoury people, the worst of which were those in charge. It's merciless in its depiction of suffering and graphic violence – not in that laughable, b-movie type of way, but in a way that's deeply unsettling and so very dark; just a bit too close to reality for comfort – and gives us a female character out for revenge that, at the very least, you can't say isn't justified in her quest. There is a point where it starts to take on a fantasy-like quality (what if a woman fought back against all those who caused her great suffering) where Kent almost seems to be indulging in some sort of perverse reverie that's so intent on depicting the main character's pain and fury via brutal violence that it threatens to lose sight of any deeper meaning, somewhat diminishing what it has to say about other parts of the story (the plight of the indigenous people of Australia suffers the most because of it). Thankfully, it regains its composure fairly quickly and by the end, you're sure to have felt the effect of what you've just watched in some way or another; that surely counts for something. Bonus points for the film poster which is just stunning.
‘2:22' starts out with an idea that could have easily gone a number of different ways, all of them more interesting than what it actually ends up being which is a somewhat muddled romance film with no deeper meaning and slightly dodgy acting.
This is perfectly good entertainment that rises on the performances of the cast (DiCaprio, Crowe and the always underrated Strong are all great), but the fact remains that the narrative feels extremely familiar and does nothing that we haven't seen many times before. Don't get me wrong, it's far from boring and it has a number of exciting and tense scenes, it's just that they're nothing new. Now, this was made back in 2008 and perhaps it felt fresher back then, but over a decade later it feels like a well-cast thriller that lacks most of what it would need to stand out which isn't something you expect of a Ridley Scott film.
It's quite slow and there are a few too many long, lingering, shaky and/or blurry shots of José Coronado's face (sometimes the shots really work, other times they only seem to slow things down unnecessarily) for it to be as fluid and consistently gripping as it hopes it is. Nevertheless, there's the ever-present intrigue surrounding the main mystery that makes you want to keep going -- who beat the kid into a coma and for what reason -- and a curiosity in discovering how far a respectable doctor will go to find out as he slowly becomes consumed by his anger.
It's well shot, but for the most part, it's Javier Gutiérrez's excellent performance as a frustrated, middle-aged, unemployed and rejected advertising executive turned creepy, super-intelligent psychopath that keeps you watching. The problem is, whilst you can see why the character goes about doing what he does (the reasons are, essentially, the same reasons that have led to many a mid-life crisis in the real world), writers/directors the Pastor Brothers try to sell THE WAY he goes about it as incredibly clever – and yes, he makes some smart moves – but the reality of the situation is that it becomes increasingly difficult to believe the more the film progresses which removes a good chunk of the impact when it comes to the big finale.