Viola Davis shines despite the tonal shift

(From left) Viola Davis and John Boyega in Gina Prince-Bythewood's The Woman King.

(From left) Viola Davis and John Boyega at Gina Prince-Bythewood lady king,
photo, sony pictures

Sometimes it’s movies that are almost great, but only good, that break your heart the most.

It happens lady kingGina Prince-Bythewood’s action-packed historical epic is set in the early 1820s in the West African Kingdom of Dahomey (today part of Benin). It is a film made to inspire and excite the audience and overall it succeeds. But there are moments of undeniable and oft-repeated disconnection, a square-peg-in-round-hole sensation that featured this studio-released photo grim of the world’s worst long-tortured transatlantic slave trade-GIF. leaps rapidly from detailing to realities. -Ready beatdown. Rarely does a film present painful rape scenes in one minute and killer parkour the next minute.

But it is a pessimist who dwells on despair; Optimists focus on what works. It should come as no surprise that the performances here are all top-notch. Viola Davis plays General Naniska, chief of the elite female warrior squad known as the Egozi (or “Dahomey Amazons” as they were called by Europeans), in a perfect marriage of actor and character. Sheila Atim and Lashana Lynch are just as brilliant as their top lieutenants, Amenza and Izogi. Thuso Mbedu, 31, however, has the real find as the co-lead in the picture, 19-year-old Navi, who refuses to marry, so joins Agozi, who acts as our eyes and ears. Is. This new world.

Agozi serves King Ghejo, John Boyega, whose restrained performance earns a decent amount of money from every raised eyebrow. It’s not Boyega’s movie and he knows it, but when he’s on, he’s great. The Dahomey clash with another tribe, the Oyo, but both are caught in a cycle of legacy of darkness initiated by the European slave trade. Ghezo held his head high in relative religiosity: he prohibited the Dahomey from selling his people to the whites, and sold only to his enemies. Naniska is the visionary who recognizes this must end too, and has an economic plan to go along with it.

It’s a serious and uneasy topic, and much of it is handled with respectable honesty. But this is also a studio picture, PG-13 at that, so it needs to sell to all four quadrants. The cross-generational implications of slavery quickly dovetail with a preposterous Twilight Saga-esque love story between Nawi and Malik (Jordan Bolger), a preposterously buff visitor from Brazil whose mother was Dahomey and whose father was Portuguese, who has apparently hitched a ride with his slaver buddy, played by the mustache-twirling Hero Fiennes Tiffin.

Other story points involve some Days Of Our Lives stuff about lost children, and a showdown between Viola Davis and the head of the Oyo army who tortured her years ago. There is a considerable amount of tonal whiplash in between shots of young Nawi using a short sword to snap necks.

THE WOMAN KING – Official Trailer (HD)

Ultimately, the truly terrific performances and effective battle scenes deliver in the thrills department. (The MPAA rating keeps it way, way less bloody than a typical Sunday night on HBO.) There is, unfortunately, a hollow feeling at the end. The Agojie were Very realBut Hollywood-of-it-all creates a “yay, we just ended slavery” vibe that, historically, hasn’t really been the case. Schindler’s List, another film that tries to turn its head around an atrocity that may never be fully understood, ends with a glimmer of light, but its “Uh, now what?” With more realistic. eleventh hour. lady kingThe objectives are different.

again, it takes a lot of work lady king, Most striking is the overall look of the film, a production designed to repudiate colonialist ideas of Africa, the “dark continent.” The architecture of the king’s palace is richly designed, rich in color and intricate decorative elements. Hardly anyone watches a movie and thinks “Great light!” But Prince-Bythewood and cinematographer Polly Morgan earned it here. In addition, the costumes (from Star Trek: Discovery alum Gersha Phillips) is exceptional, weaving fierce looks with fierce weapons. Why does Lashana Lynch want a rifle when she can file her nails into the death tool? lady kingThe training scenes are more upbeat than most battle pictures (think stripes Instead full metal jacket) and some of the scenes are funny “in court” (especially with King’s kinder Majordomo) game of Thrones Quality.

Prince-Bythewood, whose beyond the light One of the most overlooked films of the last decade, it has created a vision of historical Africa that has never really been seen in mainstream American film. For that only, she deserves a crown.

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