The Woman King (2022)
Netflix / Theaters
Dir: Gina Prince-Blythewood
Writers: Dana Stevens; Maria Bello
Starring: Viola Davis; Thuso Mbedu; Lashana Lynch
Before we get to the obvious – let me just say, this is the first time ever, that John Boyega did not annoy the hell out of me. I actually enjoyed his performance. In fact, I had no idea it was even him until the end credits. Absolutely shocked me.
Okay – now we can get to the obvious. How good is Viola Davis?! Wow. This woman carried this film on her back and is just incredible. Viola plays the main character, the warrior, the idol of the village, Nanisca. Nanisca is the General of the village’s army. Now it’s not like Wakanda where they are low key high tech. No, these people are poor. Like, sticks and long knives and stuff. They have no lab or super power or anything.
The money for their village comes from slave trading, and it makes them a ton. So I was thinking – hey – fierce warrior, slave trade – ok, let’s get it on. No, this is not that. This movie is actually much more basic than that, and maybe that’s why it was overlooked so much.
I don’t want to ruin it for you – but it’s been out a while now. This movie is a very basic mother and daughter reuniting story. Simple, heartfelt, and charming. Sure it’s back drop is fierce woman general fighting off other tribes for trade routes and slave trading, but that’s just for the fight scenes and backdrops. This baby is about her baby. A fierce warrior finding out her daughter is alive and both of them coming to terms with it.
Warm and inviting against a harsh, brutal backdrop of slaves getting whipped and beat to a pulp. Viola Davis betraying her King, Jon Boyega, to save her daughter that she has finally found.
So there it is. Not much culture, no big morality speech about how bad slave trading is, or someone winning their freedom or anything like that. It’s about Viola Davis and her daughter. Honestly, it is such a pleasure to watch Viola go from kicking the crap out of big strong men, then coming home and being gentle as a lamb with her family. Very moving, and a very skilled performance by Ms. Davis.
This movie amazingly received zero Oscar nominations, which is a shame. Maybe because it’s not glorious and Viola does not quite have that kind of political pull yet. This movie is better than the Fabelmans could ever be. Spielberg has immense political power in Hollywood, so if you don’t nominate him for tying his shoes, you may never work again. I get it. True art and true talent should be recognized though, but that’s another article.
You watch this and you go watch Fabelmans and tell me which one has the bigger heart and the best talent. Viola Davis is a tour de force, and she outshines them all.
If you have Netflix, go give this try and save Fabelmans for some Tupperware party or something.