“The Woman King” was a film I was reluctant to watch at TIFF. First, it was about to open in a few days, secondly, I did not believe the epic story the film promises to tell can work. To my greatest surprise, director Gina Prince-Bythewood smashed my doubt and had my uninterrupted attention throughout.
Filled with the power performances by Academy award winner Viola Davis and the rising star Thuso Mbedu as Nawi, it’s an epic journey worth remembering. It is centered around the Agojie, the all-female military regiment assigned to protect the African Kingdom of Dahomey from the international advisories and the slave sellers. Nawi is an orphan who enters the Agojie to become one of the best of their warriors. She leaves an abusive life behind and begins to master the necessary skills to defeat the enemy in close contact. The army is led by Nanisca (Viola Davis) who disagrees with Nawi’s attitude towards her guidance. But when the neighbor is threatening to destroy the Kingdom, Nanisca leads the army towards a war, filled with bloodshed and loss of lives. But eventually, to prevail.
Set in the 1820s, “The Woman King” is just an incredibly inspiring story that shows how only through unity can the enemy be defeated. The more we stay silent, the more issues will persist. But the moment we call it quit, the nightmarish reality brought by the neighbor must end. It’s so much fun to watch how the Agoije army is getting prepared for a battle through the constant training. Music, direction, cinematography and costumes takes us back to an era we would not be seeing otherwise. It’s an experience you as a viewer should not miss as it’s the year’s best film so far, that will most likely fight for the Oscars too.