The nightingale, according to one source, is a bird know to sing “laments” that are “seemingly spontaneous.” Hence the name of the new HBO-produced movie, “Nightingale”, featuring David Oyelowo as a man sinking into the depths of violence, spiritual crisis, and loneliness. Nightingale is a one-man show, an 80-minute cry of the heart featuring alternating moments of phone calls, thinking out loud, and the now-pervasive use of social media (in this case a video blog, or vlog). Oyelowo plays Peter, a man who has just committed an act of terrible violence, and the repercussions of that violence haunt the story from the beginning. Peter is clearly not well, but he has yet to realize this, even as, ironically, he makes “confessional” videos for others to watch, and begins to hunker down inside his mother’s house, waiting for the arrival of his best friend whom he served in the Army with. Obviously, any movie featuring a single actor must be carried convincingly by that person, and Oyelowo’s skills, as he showed so brilliantly in Selma, are again up to the task. (If nothing else, the viewer is treated to another side of this actor’s talent, since the character of Peter—volatile, angry and deluded– is far away from that of Martin Luther King.) As “Nightingale” moves toward an inevitable, though not fully revealed, conclusion, two thoughts come to mind: that its downside is an unrelentingly depressing character study of a seemingly doomed soul, with no hope of redemption; yet it reveals, through great acting and writing and with ironic sharpness, the crack in our media and technology saturated lives. An adventurous piece worth looking into, “Nightingale” is rated TV-MA for some strong language.
Posted by: David