Posts tagged "rape"

“The Nightingale” An interview with Aisling Franciosi

August 21st, 2019 Posted by Interviews, Review 0 thoughts on ““The Nightingale” An interview with Aisling Franciosi”

It’s 1825 and a young Irish convict, her husband, and infant son live in the rugged Tasmanian wilderness, surviving each and every day. What lies ahead is one of the most unpredictable and tortuous tales of resiliency and love as a mother is set on vengeance for rape and murder. Written and directed by Jennifer Kent, Aisling Franciosi stars in the lead role of Clare, creating an evocative and realistic story that delves deeply into the human psyche and the dark history of colonialism. The power within the character of Clare is immediately evident and builds throughout the film. I had a chance to sit down with Franciosi to discuss the making of “The Nightingale.”

Pamela Powell (PP): How did you prepare for such an emotional and difficult role, both physically and psychologically?

Aisling Franciosi (AF): I prepared by doing a lot of research myself, but also Jen (Kent) and I were in contact all the time about what to watch and what to read and obviously I read some history books for historical content on that side of things, but I also read this incredible book called “Trauma and Recovery.” The clinical psychologist who’s attached to the project, she suggested that I read it. She’s just really fascinated with how the brain of humans come up with survival mechanisms . … I also, from a practical point of view, I learned how to horse ride, wood chop, shoot a musket, but then when I got to Sydney, I went to the Center for Domestic Violence and I talked with the social workers there and some real life victims of rape. That honestly did a huge amount of work for me, emotionally preparing myself because I instantly had this weight of responsibility on my shoulders.

PP: Why did you want to portray Clare?

AF: I think it has something to do with how the truth drips off the page when you’re reading a Jennifer Kent script. She’s just an incredible writer. … I’m a little bit worried about that I might not get something like that again. It’s hard to find roles like that … and the more I researched it, the more I got into it, and … the angrier I got about the convict history of Australia. …I knew that convicts were sent to Australia, but I didin’t know how many of them were sent there for pretty much nothing. Stealing some food to survive. They were the rif raf that they wanted to clean up. Of course, there were some real, terrible criminals that were sent there, but women in particular were basically sent there, their job was to finish their sentence and populate this colony. And that really, really, really bothers me. That all added to this need to tell this story.

PP: Let’s talk about the rape scene. It was incredibly difficult to watch and that’s an understatement.

AF: Whenever I think of that scene, it’s instantly physical. I’m not thinking anything in particular, but when I watched it, I started crying. I think people want to describe it as a rape revenge film and I think on paper, I can see why people would think that, but please watch ours because it’s so much more. … they have to deal with this horrible loss and trauma and damage their sense of self and self-worth and PTSD. …You know what? If you’re going to show a rape, you better make sure that people feel devastated by it. In the past it’s been spoken about almost as if it’s a sexual deviancy. It really isn’t about sex. It’s a weapon and power and dehumanizing someone. There’s a reason that rape and war go hand in hand. It’s a very powerful, dehumanizing and destructive that has a long lasting effect. I’m really proud, and I know it’s not easy to watch, but even with the violence in general, our attitude is, it’s abhorrent. …. You’re forced to looking at how devastating it is.

PP: Jennifer must have set up a situation for you and all the actors to feel safe during that scene, right?

AF: Jen is just wonderful. first things first, she had her clinical psychologist on set, and [she] was there to kind of like take breaks and chat with us afterward about how we were feeling …. There was talk initially that maybe Sam and I, wouldn’t it be interesting if we didn’t really interact that much before shooting because there would be this weird distance between us and obviously she (Clare) hates him but is forced into having a very odd relationship with him and a very damaging one. No, we have to spend AS MUCH TIME AS possible together. I couldn’t have done those things with someone I didn’t feel, … [who] made me feel super safe.Those were really hard, those days. We were in tears in between takes and obviously it’s hard for me, but it’s terrible for the guys. … We were taking a break from the cabin scene, and [the psychologist] said do you mind talking with the guys? They’re really cut up about you. Can you show them that you’re ok? … I gave them a hug and everything and they were in bits.

PP: Tell me about training for all the physically challenging skills like horseback riding. Had you done that before?

AF: No, I didn’t. Someone even said to me, like, you’re Irish. I’m so sorry to disappoint you. It’s not like we’re all on green fields in Ireland on horses. I had never even been around horses at all. They flew me to Sydney to train. … [And] The wood chopping. It’s one of my new favorite things. You relieve so much tension. It’s why I loved that. I had the Tasmanian Wood Chopping Champions couple teaching me! …And then shooting the musket was, God those guns weigh so much! That scene where the four Aboriginals … awful, awful scene. 
The weather was terrible. We had a lot of first-time actors and my only job for that whole time was to hold my gun up against [Billy’s] back. Like at one point (quivering hands). Jen was like, no I want you to hold it like, (mimes taking gun) and [she said,] “Oh, my god this is heavy!” I know! (Laughs!)

Jen organized Taekwondo and boxing, not because I do any boxing or Taekwondo in the movie, but it was important for us. She wanted to get the physicality of Clare right and she’s a very tough, super working class West Ireland woman. …So before we’d do certain scenes, basically the stunt man would hold up two pads and I would beat them before “action!” It really helped.

PP: Can you tell me about the Aboriginal people in the film?

AF: People are always a a bit cautious when it’s a white woman telling the story of an Aboriginal, but she wanted to make sure that we had an Aboriginal elder on set and she got blessings from lots of different aboriginal elders from different communities. We definitely don’t fall into the White Savior category. It’s the other way around. Billy’s (Baykali Ganambarr) broken too. He’s got his own trauma. It’s what he sees … so he has his prejudices too and I love that. Yeah, we’re very different and there’s this fear of the other all the time but really there are people with their own pain and we’re so much more similar than we are different no matter how much we want to tell ourselves otherwise.

“The Nightingale” is an incredible and haunting story of power and resiliency with extraordinary performances from Franciosi and the entire cast. Kent’s remarkable writing and directing will make this film one of the best of the year.

4/4 Stars

“The View From Tall” a modern day ‘Scarlet Letter’

April 2nd, 2019 Posted by Review 0 thoughts on ““The View From Tall” a modern day ‘Scarlet Letter’”

Co-directors Caitlin Parrish and Erica Weiss tell a complicated story of a 17 year-old high school senior whose life takes a different direction after having an affair with her teacher. Amanda Drinkall and Michael Patrick Thornton star in this poignant and impactful tale, particularly in the era of #MeToo and #TimesUp.

The opening scene creates an immediate sense of compassion for Justine (Drinkall) who is shunned not only by her parents and sister, but her classmates as well. From glaring stares in the hall to physical intimidation in the classroom, Justine seems to be the victim of intense bullying. As the story begins to take shape through her sessions with a mandatory therapist, Douglas (Thornton), we begin to understand what has happened to this young woman. The punishment she receives from her family, friends, and community for being a victim, although initially she is unaccepting of this title, is beyond comprehension, yet the film demonstrates how easily this can and probably does occur. It is this exploration of sexuality and consent that is perfectly demonstrated in various situations that makes this story so insightful and extraordinary.

Justine’s breaking point severs her professional relationship with Douglas, but awkwardly we see a true friendship develop between the two as they both need a friend in their respective times of need. The writer has set up a delicate balancing act as we see Justine as a vulnerable yet wise teen and Douglas as an older man with high integrity. With this, we hold our breath, waiting for the next shoe to fall, the tension continually building, hoping we can breathe a sigh of relief.

Justine is heads and shoulders above her peers, physically and intellectually, although emotionally she is still a teen and responds like any other 17 year-old. Her relationship with her parents is strained to say the least, and we discover the harsh realities of both her parents’ reactions to her actions as well as other adults. And a sisterly friendship has gone devastatingly awry, as Paula (Carolyn Braver) deceives and denies Justine repeatedly. Justine’s intrinsic fortitude is imperative to her survival and most of us would have buckled under such pressure and scrutiny.

The storyline is reminiscent of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter” as Justine is ostracized and ridiculed for her behavior. There are also assumptions about her character and therefore her rights as a human and a woman based on the fact that a teacher crossed a boundary. Justine is the guilty party in everyone’s eyes, not the teacher. We see everyone’s viewpoint regarding what happened and the humiliation and punishment Justine constantly receives. It’s heartbreaking, particularly as Justine looks back at the particular crossroad in her life, taking her down this life-changing road.

Drinkall and Thornton are extraordinary in these very complicated and deeply layered roles. Their genuine performances bring authenticity to not only their characters, but to the story itself. Both find nuanced subtleties to connect you to their characters and allow you to understand their thoughts and emotions. In fact, the entire cast is incredible and Braver shines as a typical teen, unable to handle her sister’s situation and the unrealistic expectations of her parents.

“The View from Tall” is a gripping story depicting sensitive topics told with deft skill. From underage drinking and eating disorders to bullying and rape, this film finds a way to gently tell a brutal story. And it’s not without humor, as Drinkall’s character is exceptionally bright and as she grows stronger, understanding her situation, she uses her razor sharp wit to cut those who deserve to receive it. Set in Chicago with an incredible musical score, this is a film to see.

Watch the film via FLIX PREMIERE or AMAZON

4 Stars

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