Story

The Nightingale is a French and Chinese co-production with English subtitles. It follows the story of a young girl named Ren Xing (Xin Yi Yang). When her workaholic parents go away on a lengthy trip, Ren is left in the care of her previously estranged grandfather Zhi Gen Zhu (Baotian Li). Zhi is a widower living in a small apartment in Beijing. At first Ren’s father isn’t happy about this arrangement. This is because Zhi briefly lost Ren in a crowded marketplace several years earlier. 

Zhi decides to return to his hometown in the country and takes Ren with him. Ren is initially presented as a spoiled and selfish child who doesn’t want to part with the comforts of modern life. On their journey, the two carry Zhi’s pet nightingale in a beautiful cage. Although she isn’t happy about the journey, Ren starts to warm to her grandfather after they get lost in a forest one night. As their bond deepens, Ren finds herself wanting to stay with her grandfather because she feels free with him. 

Themes

Family relationships; consumerism

Violence

None of concern

Content that may disturb children

Under 5
Nothing of concern

From 5-8
Children in this age group may be concerned about the following:

  • Ren goes to stay with her grandfather when her parents go away on a business trip
  • Ren and Zhi talk about her grandmother’s death. 

From 8-13
Nothing of concern 

Over 13
Nothing of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Product placement

The Nightingale shows some Apple products.

Coarse language

None of concern

Ideas to discuss with your children

The Nightingale is a heart-warming story that takes place against the stunning backdrop of Guangxi in south-western China. Ren is a young girl who has been brought up in a highly consumerist society. She’s used to living in comfort, is quickly bored and needs constant stimulation from technology. The movie highlights the struggle she faces when her comforts are taken away and explores the rewarding nature of a life lived more simply. 

This movie explores not only the generational differences between Ren and her grandfather, but also the difference in their values, goals and life experiences. Ultimately, the movie shows that the freedom of the peaceful countryside of Guangxi has far more to offer Ren than the fast-paced lifestyle of Beijing.

Children aged 10 years and over are most likely to understand the themes and appreciate the story in The Nightingale. Younger children are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in the movie, but it’s in Chinese with English subtitles, so it’s best suited to children who can read well.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include:

  • being open to trying new things and exploring new places
  • not judging people before you get to know them, and always giving other people the benefit of the doubt
  • being sensitive and compassionate towards other people.

The Nightingale could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the place of technology in modern life, and how it can influence people’s health and wellbeing.