The Woman King

The Woman King ★★★★

2022 Catch Up: 20 / 27 

Much like the ferocious female characters it revolves around, The Woman King is an exceptionally visceral and thrilling spectacle - amplified by its admirable ability to uncover the depths of the characters themselves as well as walking a fine line between handling its real-life subject matter even if at times it can inevitably be a bit touchy. Where The Woman King succeeds so well is thanks to Gina Prince-Bythewood’s direction as she successfully balances the thrilling action spectacle - all well shot, appropriately violent and viscerally choreographed topped by strong camerawork that makes full use in capturing the strength and prowess of the Agojie tribe but also in handling the more quieter character moments as she slowly but assuredly pokes at the characters themselves as they approach an uncertain enemy and their welcoming dynamics. None moreso than Viola Davis and Thuso Mdebu - the former expectedly on top form as a fierce woman with more layers to her seemingly tough exterior and watching her slowly open up and Davis say so much with just her expressions is powerful while the latter more than holds her own in the more dramatic moments. Lashana Lynch is also exceptionally on par as Izogie while the rest all make the most of their demanding roles. 

It’s all thanks to their commitment that the Agojie come across as a truly terrifying, yet relatable force of nature. Technically, the film is also well accomplished however. The production and costume design do a stunning job of recreating and visualizing these regions of Africa while fleshing out the culture these people stick to while the grandiose musical composition and execution of its morality makes it a tough watch to unravel at times. There are some moments that do falter a bit, mostly in how it skirts the darker aspects of this point in history that cuts out some of the teeth but it tries to make up for that in genuine heart and it works.

All hail, Viola Davis! The woman king!

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