Film Review – The Woman King

The Woman King (MA)

Directed by: Gina Prince-Bythewood

Starring: Viola Davis, Thuso Mdebu, Lashana Lynch

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Review by: Julian Wright

A fascinating and untold piece of history gets the big screen treatment it (mostly) deserves with a Viola Davis impressive as ever in a more physical role.

We get an insight into the West African Kingdom of Dahomey circa 1823, and in particular, the the all-female group of warriors,the Agojie, that protects it.

Led by the commanding and loyal Nanisca (Viola Davis), the Agojie liberate women who have been enslaved.

When the fiercely independent young woman Nawi (Thuso Mbedu) refuses to marry an abusive older man, she is dropped off at the Agojie community, but her stubbornness clashes with Nanisca.

A story about a group of strong, independent, self sufficient and self reliant women of colour in the 1800s is such a refreshing and compelling concept to explore in film.

The action scenes are terrifically staged and directed (if a little underlit), both thrilling and brutal allowing, us to see these fierce female warriors cause just as much physical damage as men, if not more.

And the dramatic scenes are mostly compelling.

This is a fascinating and powerful story here and yet, the longer it goes on, the more that power is slightly diluted. Perhaps some tightening in the editing may have helped prevent this.

It becomes less about how these women exist in and interact with this world and more about borderline soap opera twists.

But what is consistently incredible, is Davis, who brings both phsycial and emotional gravitas.

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