There has been much discourse concerning The Woman King. Some have questioned the merit of the film based on its theme, slavery. One that is constantly recycled in Hollywood when it comes to the history of Black people and/or African Americans. The film marketing stated it is “inspired by true events” like most stories of the past. This one takes a different approach by depicting the role Africans played in the slave trade and why. Starring Viola Davis, Thuso Mbedu, and Lashana Lynch as warriors for the Kingdom of Dahomey, The Woman King packs a heavy dose of action and drama.
Nanisca (Viola Davis), is the general of the group and delivered a performance that is fierce and vulnerable. Amenza (Sheila Atim) worked opposite of Nanisca, which created mystique and uncertainty in addition to the chaos already present. Izogie (Lashana Lynch) cut through the thick tension with well-needed humor, which contrasted her vicious fighting methods. Nawi (Thuso Mbedu) tore down the house as the co-lead of the narrative. Nawi is a conflicted character throughout yet managed to steal the show on more than one occasion. It is difficult not to admire her dynamism and pure grit.
Tribes fought against each other after an uneasy treaty broke. As it is the 18th century, the slave trade is in full effect, and it seemed all parties benefited from the conflict. For those who do not wish to see people in bondage or servitude, let this be a trigger warning. In addition, there is a significant amount of graphic violence despite the PG-13 rating. The brutality is quite entertaining, and each casualty of war is deeply felt. No small children allowed.
Another awesome detail to point out, is the costume design. Although the performers are attractive, they are still fighters. The armor, clothing, accessories, and hairstyles all serve a purpose. Not a single thing made it onscreen simply for the sake of looking pretty or sexy. Each minute of screen time explained the daily life of a Dahomey resident, its economy, and potential threats. It’s hard to imagine anyone watches this and dislike every aspect of the movie. The Woman King made it into my top 10 of the year and gets a 9 out of 10.
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