Picks of the Week is Women and Hollywood‘s newest resource. W&H writers are often asked for recommendations, so each week they’ll spotlight the women-driven and women-made projects—movies, series, VOD releases and more—that they’re most excited about. (Sign up for the Women and Hollywood newsletter at womenandhollywood.com to get each week’s picks delivered to your inbox!)
Movie of the Week: The Nightingale
Written and Directed by Jennifer Kent
The Nightingale—Jennifer Kent’s follow-up to her 2014 horror hit The Babadook—was the only film directed by a woman to screen in Competition at last year’s Venice Film Festival. (This year they will have two.)
The Nightingale is a story of two unlikely companions. The film tells the story of a young woman who, after serving a prison sentence in what is now known as Tasmania, experiences a horrific tragedy and seeks revenge against the soldiers who have wronged her. She goes about her hunt with the help of an Indigenous man whose land is being stolen and desecrated by the colonizers. It is also a story of—trigger alert—raping and pilfering.
The Nightingale is tough to watch—but important, because the violence it depicts is the violence of colonization. White people usurping land just because they can and have guns. People losing everything because their skin is different. It is a story of a difficult past that has extreme relevance today.
Kent shows everything, and in that display, you must not turn away. You must see and you must feel. It is an extremely brave movie. (Melissa Silverstein)
The Nightingale opens in select theaters August 2.
Series of the Week: “Four Weddings and a Funeral”
Created by Mindy Kaling and Matt Warburton
If you’re a fan of Mindy Kaling’s writing—“The Mindy Project,” “Late Night,” etc.—her newest project, “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” will be a real treat for you. A modern reimagining of the classic British rom-com, Hulu’s limited series has all the Kaling staples: bark-laugh-inducing one-liners, an affinity for party scenes and an unabashed love of romantic tropes, no matter how far-fetched.
Like its 1994 source material, the show is about a group of close-knit friends in various states of romantic turmoil who, over the course of a couple years, attend four weddings and a funeral. But this time the core group are American expats, and they, and their extended group of friends and lovers, aren’t all blindingly white.
Kaling and her collaborators do a good job of telling racially and culturally specific stories. Take protagonist Maya (Nathalie Emmanuel) and her would-be love interest, Kash (Nikesh Patel)–they’re both people of color, but her experience as an upper-middle-class American black woman is very different from his as a working-class Pakistani British man.
For an added bonus, Kaling devotees will recognize some familiar faces (including “The Mindy Project” castmates Rebecca Rittenhouse and Tommy Dewey), and lovers of the romantic comedy genre will be awarded with Easter eggs and straight-out references galore.
Like most rom-coms, the charms of “Four Weddings and a Funeral” will be lost if you place them under too much scrutiny. But overall, the series is a worthy addition to Kaling’s oeuvre and a testament to the power of inclusive storytelling. (Rachel Montpelier)
The first four episodes of “Four Weddings and a Funeral” hit Hulu July 31. Subsequent episodes will premiere on Wednesdays.