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THE WOMAN KING 😊

A movie that gets almost everything right.

PREMISE

A historical epic based on the alternate history of The Kingdom of Dahomey, one of the most powerful states of Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries.

THE GOOD STUFF

VIOLA F****** DAVIS- Sometimes, one has to conclude that there are facts in this world that are just flat-out incontrovertible. Water is wet, the sky is blue, 1 + 1 = 2, and Viola Davis turns out great performances. At this point, it is nearly impossible to imagine something she cannot pull off.

Here, she looks like a seasoned veteran of the action genre, handling some spectacular fight choreography just as well as she handles the emotional weight of the character she plays. She just hits home run after home run.

LASHANA LYNCH- The person who benefits the most from the excellent fight choreography in this film is Lynch. Her fight sequences are done with the action-heroine type swaggering confidence that nobody else in the cast has. She’s as close to a comedic relief character as this film can provide, and she handles that very well too.

Thuso Mbedu– For those unaware, Mbedu is an actress from South Africa whose television resume goes all the way back to 2014. All of her credits are international things that you might not have seen, and I can only imagine that she is a massive star overseas because this is a rather thunderous film debut for an actress.

Being dwarfed in a scene with an actress with the screen presence of Viola Davis is quite common. But Mbedu is totally game. She even manages to match the intensity more often than not. This is one of the biggest breakthrough performances of 2022.

THE BAD STUFF

Honestly nothing. There is only one very big problem….

THE UGLY STUFF

Santo Ferreira– This movie goes out of its way not to depict women’s bodies in a typical Hollywood oversexualized fashion. The men and women of the Dahomey militia look like they’re in tremendous shape, of course. Still, in the way that real people would be if they were to hit the gym, bulk up, and not do the carb starving, steroid-induced, super diuretic-filled Hollywood workout that so many people do to get in shape for films.

And for some reason, this story tries to force a love story in the middle of everything. With that comes Santos Ferreira, a shirt-phobic, long-haired, swashbuckling, half European with an eight-pack and 10% body fat that steps straight off the cover of GQ magazine and into this film.

They even have the nerve to have him in a heavily flirtatious correspondence with the character played by Mbedu, even though the age difference between them is quite noticeable. The presence of Ferrara really derails the momentum of everything going on, and everything involving him is borderline cringy.

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When it comes to films like this, people go out of their way to point out how different the history is of the characters that the movie is based upon. I do understand criticizing that to a certain point. But for me, what’s also important is how it makes its intended audience feel. You can only capture so much history in two hours or so, so at the very least, you have to be entertaining more than anything else, right?

There are so many movies out there that are intently focused on miserablism when it comes to stories that are based on true events. Oscar season is routinely packed with movies that make you feel bad and uncomfortable. THE WOMAN KING, thankfully, is not that.

THE WOMAN KING is in theaters now.

Eli Brumfield

Eli Brumfield in an actor/screenwriter from Seattle Washington, living in Los Angeles.

He is the host of the RV8 Podcast.

He hates the word cinefile, but considering how many films he consumes in a week...and how many films he goes out of his way to see, no matter the genre...he kinda seems to be one.

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