The star of Jennifer Kent’s new thriller The Nightingale has responded to moviegoers who walked out during a screening of the film at the Australian premiere earlier this year.
Rape (the second instance in the first 30 minutes), murder and infanticide all feature in a shocking sequence which caused numerous audience members to leave the cinema in protest. According to IndieWire, one person could be heard shouting: “She’s already been raped, we don’t need to see it again.”
Now, during an exclusive interview with NME, Aisling Franciosi has given her opinion on why the scene could prove too much for some.
“I think there are a lot of different reasons for why people leave,” she said. “First of all, that [incident] was misreported. At festivals there are always walkouts for a million different reasons. But look, there are some people for whom this film is just too confronting, and to use the modern term, it’s triggering for some people and that’s fine.
“This film isn’t an endurance test, it has its message and I think if you get to the end of it you see what that is.”
Franciosi went on to detail the emotional response she’s received from rape survivors who have watched The Nightingale. “What I love about our film, and films in general is, that it’s never going to have the same impact on everybody,” she said. “We’ve had victims of abuse, for example, who found it too much and had to leave and that is absolutely fine.
“But then we also had victims who came up to us… I had a woman after a screening in LA who said, ‘as a victim of sexual abuse, I feel understood after watching this film.’ And that’s just massive, so it’s always gonna have a different effect on different people and I would never judge anyone for finding it too much.”
However, Franciosi, known for playing Lyanna Stark in Game Of Thrones, also urged cinemagoers to “try and make it through the rest of the film” as there is “an emotional payoff and a very important message” to be discerned by its end.
Later in the same interview, Franciosi and her co-star Sam Claflin (Peaky Blinders) revealed how they reacted upon reading the script – penned by The Babadook director Jennifer Kent – for the first time.
“I found it incredibly upsetting,” said Claflin. “This was the first script that I read after becoming a new father for the first time… After that scene I was like, ‘this is a moment where I either put the script down…’ but I think there’s something about the truth of that moment that I found incredibly compelling and I don’t know why. I was almost fascinated by these people and the world that was created and I continued reading.”
Franciosi also found the script hard to read and admitted she had to “take a bit of a breather” before finishing the 19th Century Tasmania-set revenge thriller.
“Jennifer [Kent]’s writing is so intelligent,” she added. “Unfortunately, these are the realities of what happened then. It’s not something she’s just put in there for the hell of it.”
‘The Nightingale’ is in cinemas now