The Woman King

The Woman King ★★★½

To be a warrior, you must kill your tears.

Viola Davis is so cool. I also spent the time before watching this thinking to myself "I should watch The Old Guard." So, I'll get to that in the near future, I think. When it seemed like this was gearing up to be a slam dunk success for critics and audiences, I knew that one of the things that cropped up ahead of its wide release was the fact that the kingdom of Dahomey participated in the enslavement and sale of their own people. Not a great thing to have going on with the subjects of your female empowerment story, but then as people who actually saw the film would speak to, and I can now say as one of those people myself, it's not like the film just brushes over that. Amid various things, slavery and the act of doing cruel things to the people you should care about is sharply on the mind of The Woman King. Now, whether or not it pushes hard enough on that topic can be another question to ask from viewer to viewer. Thinking on the film as a whole then, it's damn good, squarely one of the most engrossing and dramatic films to come out this year. To repeat what I said at the start, Viola Davis is so cool, and she's very good here. Her, Lashana Lynch, and the film's protagonist played by Thuso Mbedu all shine in their roles. With them, and with the film's plotting and sequences of hard-hitting violence, The Woman King teeters the line between epic historical action and confronting the most horrid and nerve-shredding aspects of its particular era. Let it be a lesson for other period piece features like it, you can indulge in your premise without having to turn a blind eye to the woes of the time your story takes place during. Gina Prince-Bythewood has a sturdy eye, and I'm still reeling from the fact that Maria Bello (Yes, that Maria Bello.) has a story credit on this. I normally use CinemaScore as a punching bag, and they admittedly often deserve what I hurl at them. Yet, when a film receives the rare distinction of getting an "A+" rating through them, that's worth looking at. The Woman King holds said rare distinction, and it is indeed more than worth your time. Audience applause doesn't lie.


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