A historical epic arrives in theatres. Gina Prince-Bythewood’s The Women King is an action-packed drama set in the early 1820s in the West African Kingdom of Dahomey (today part of Benin). It is a film designed to inspire audiences and elicit cheers and by and large, it does succeed.
The Women King Cast
The movie stars Viola Davis as General Nanisca, Thuso Mbedu as Nawi, Lashana Lynch as Izogie, Sheila Atim as Amenza, John Boyega as King Ghezo, Hero Fiennes Tiffin as Santo Ferreira, Adrienne Warren as Ode, Jayme Lawson as Shante, Masali Baduza as Fumbe, Angélique Kidjo as the Meunon, Jimmy Odukoya as Oba Ade, Thando Dlomo as Kelu, Jordan Bolger as Malik, Zozibini Tunzi as Efe, Makgotso M as Iniya, and Siv Ngesi as the Migan.
The Woman King was produced by Maria Bello and Cathy Schulman, written by Dana Stevens with contributions by Gina Prince-Bythewood, and directed by Prince-Bythewood. It is a co-production between TriStar Pictures and Entertainment One. The movie had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2022, and is set to hit Indian theatres on 5 Oct 2022 in languages: Hindi, English, Tamil, and Telegu.
Dahomey Amazons is an all-women military regiment in Africa’s Kingdom of Dahomey. This historical drama brings to focus General Nanisca of the regiment, and her strategies to fight enemies who violate their honour, enslave their people and threaten to destroy everything they have lived for.
The Woman King begins with an interesting flair to have an opening crawl, complete with the narration of the text, to get the audience caught up on where and when the story takes place. The rest of the movie does an excellent job of building the world surrounding this kingdom. The production design is sublime, taking us back into the 19th century in a civilization that most are unfamiliar with seeing. There is a lot of craft in this movie that makes the experience compelling as everything feels grounded in an incredible setting. The details spent on set are praiseworthy.
The fact that the film is entirely written and directed by women brings a unique perspective unfound in a movie like this. While General Nanisca is a robust and powerful character, she has a vulnerability that she tries to hide. Her character is flawed yet investing to watch as she navigates through this story. The Woman King features an ensemble of characters who all have aspects that make them stand out, whether it’s their past or the goal they must accomplish.
Everyone in the movie is constantly trying to do better, and while it’s challenging to care about all of them at once, it does a fine job on the page. The main selling point of this movie goes to the fine selection of cast and their performances, with Davis and John Boyega standing out as especially phenomenal in this film. Davis vanishes into another character in her expansive career and the ensemble cast truly meets her every step of the way.
Although the movie sometimes lacks urgency which gets draining, it is well compensated with the delivery of well-crafted action scenes. The costume design is on point & the craft is top-notch, which gives us enough reasons to watch this movie on big screens this October.