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‘The Woman King’ Review: She Slays

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Naniska’s hopes and Dahomey’s future are entwined with the plans of the kingdom’s chief rival, the Oyo Empire (whose imposing leader is played by Jimmy Odukoya). Accurately depicted or not, the image of Oyo sweeping on horseback with a turban wrapped around his head is strikingly reminiscent of the Janjaweed, the mounted militias that have ravaged western Sudan since the early 2000s. increase. The visual connection to these forces adds to the film’s overall sense of the past, bridging the horrors of 19th-century Africa and the horrors of the post-colonial Great Fire.

Even if the script is boring, its history and Prince-Bythewood’s direction imbue The Queen with intensity, which is evident in every battle and in the toned faces and taut muscles of the warriors.Nanisuka rallied them before the battle, giving them a fight-or-die thunder, reflecting a vow that it would be better to die on one’s feet than live on one’s knees. And what makes this movie so moving is that even if the story is more complicated than the movie suggests.

“The Woman King” drags on here and there, mostly by subplots involving Nawi (the charming Suso Mbedu), an unruly young woman who is abandoned in a palace by her family as it becomes less convincing in each scene. Weighted. A classic naif that needs to be educated and tested, the character is an obvious narrative twist that Mbedu fills with grit and personality. In part, Nawi acts as an audience agent, Nawi transforms into a fighter and learns from her mentor, her Izogie. Izogie is a ferocious warrior played by the fantastic and charismatic Lynch.

It’s a shame that the scripts don’t always match the one-of-a-kind source material and Prince-Bythewood’s solid, stable direction. Indeed, if the script is made more nuanced and less bogged down by contemporary ideas about female roles—at some point the film shifts into a trauma-driven maternal melodrama—Davies is more likely to shine or tear. She’s good at both, giving the role the kind of steel it needs, but Nanisuka raises her sword to rally women together. The characters aren’t intricately detailed, even if you feel in your bones what’s at stake in this battle when you let them.

It is rated PG-13 for Human Trafficking and Battlefield Violence. Running time: 2 hours 6 minutes. at the theater.

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