Film Review: The Woman King
Actors: Viola Davis (Nanisca), Thuso Mbedu (Nawi), Sheila Atim (Amenza), Lashana Lynch (Igozie), John Boyega (King Ghezo); Director: Gina Prince-Bythewood; Writer: Dana Stevens; Film Studio: Sony Pictures
The Woman King is about a group of all female warriors in the year 1800 from the African country of Dahomey. They train to be skilled fighters in a way of combat that helps them fight an enemy who is trying to destroy their way of life. It follows a young woman named Nawi (Thuso Mbedu) who is on her journey to becoming a Dahomey warrior, after her parents disown her for not marrying the man they picked for her. The experiences she goes through is what shapes her into becoming the warrior she is by the end of the movie.
Things I liked:
While watching this movie you learn a lot. I had no idea that in Africa, women could once be warriors or rulers of countries. I thought men held all the power, so finding out something new like that was a great experience. Who says you can’t learn from movies?
The actors in this movie were extraordinary. There was a scene where Igozige (Lashana Lynch) dies and the actress who plays Nawi (Thuso Mbedu) gave an excellent performance. She was crying her eyes out, while spit came out of her mouth. The audience could really feel that she was absolutely heartbroken. Another scene where Viola Davis (Nanisca) revealed to Nawi that she was her mother was really powerful and made me once again acknowledge the effort put in by the actors.
Anytime companies create movies about people’s culture they have to make sure they are being real and authentic about it or it will be labeled as culturally offensive. And I know this movie was not culturally offensive, because my mother wouldn’t stop talking to me about how she grew up doing the exact same things the movie was portraying. So for them to actually take the time and study the culture speaks volumes.
Things I didn’t like:
The movie was a bit too long. There were things that it could have definitely done without. For example, the small scenes with the extra warriors could have been left out, because they were not important to the storyline, why give them that much screen time? Same thing goes to the little romance that was going on with Nawi (Thuso Mbedu) and Malik (Jordan Bolger), a mixed race Brazilian who associated himself with slave traders and owners. It was an unnecessary and a ridiculous addition to the film. The thing about Dahomey women warriors is that they cannot be with men, they stay away from them and for her to be breaking their number one rule was crazy to me. If you didn’t believe in the whole no men rule, then why be a warrior in the first place. She would act as if the rules didn’t apply to her.
I furthermore hated how they killed off Igozie (Lashan Lynch). Killing her off didn’t add anything to the story, because the movie was almost over at the time of her death. Why not just keep her in? I will say however that her death did make me want to cry.
Also before I watched the movie I believed it was going to be a lot more pretty and eye-catching. There was definitely color in the film, but it seemed very saturated at times. I understand they did that in order to show that it’s not exactly an upbeat movie, but I couldn’t help feeling a bit disappointed by the visuals.
The movie actually has a bit of controversy to it. Many members of the black community wanted to boycott it. I am aware that when you are going into the movie it says that it’s based on true events; which it is, but very loosely. Some things are going to be changed to present a certain story to the audience. And this movie was changed drastically. In the movie the Dahomey people and warriors are presented in a good light. They are essentially made to look like good people. When in reality that was not the case. The Dahomey people played a big role in the slave trade, as they were the ones capturing people and selling them to the Europeans and Americans. That is what led to it becoming a controversial film.