Viola Davis ascends the throne again in “The Woman King”, a film that brings her closer to the academy nominations and could give her her second Oscar.
The film represents a remarkable contribution to epic cinema, embodied by empowered warrior women, whose contributions tend to be irregular in action, as we saw with the creative failures of “Charlie’s Angels” and the last “Terminator”.
“The Woman King” corrects the defects of its predecessors, telling a story with grit and a psychological dimension, based on the real events of the Kingdom of Dahomey, where an elite military troop of Amazons was in charge of personally protecting the monarch of a state in the 18th century, besieged by settlers and warlords.
An obvious nod to the war and internal conflicts that continue to shake the African nation in the millennium, in addition to its poorly healed wounds, its arbitrary geographical fragmentation, the exploitation of its raw materials, the eternal dilemma between democracy and dictatorship.
Visualizing the content, I evoke a list of titles that are worth recovering: “The Last King of Scotland”, “Hotel Rwanda”, “Beast of no nation”, “Invictus”, even the children’s allegory of “Lion King”, inspired by Hamlet.
Of course, our head immediately connects with the memory of “Black Panther”, regarding the imminent premiere of its sequel, by a stylized Ryan Coogler, who makes us sigh with the trailer of his new creation.
“The Woman King” knows how to take advantage of the moment of expectation, warming up the ground for what will be one of the phenomena of 2022, resurrecting the spirit of Wakanda Forever in tribute to the loved and missed Chadwick Boseman.
Just writing his name here, I already shed a little tear.
Speaking of gentlemen of the color method, John Boyega shines as King Ghezo, proving why he’s more than just the “Star Wars” guy.
Of Nigerian descent, Boyega is a British-trained performer, a full-fledged Orson Welles who became obsessed with Elizabethan theater as a young man, achieving prominence in the performance of “Othello.”
So “The Woman King” bases its creative force on the interaction of its cast of actors, in a theatrical staging that moves us by the conviction with which the main roles are incorporated.
Also from London, but of Jamaican descent, is the charismatic Lashana Lynch, who grew up at the ArtsEd school, ending up appearing in the 007 saga as a Bond girl with arms.
In “The Woman King”, Lashana Lynch surprises us with a key and dramatic supporting role, imprinted with black humor, which has much of the tragic essence of Willem Defoe in “Platoon”.
Because we do not forget that we are in the presence of a successful feature film on the art of war, from which we must draw multiple lessons and conclusions.
One of them is the importance of integrating the group, so that the utopia of freedom does not fall apart. There a determining role is played by a girl who ascends, without much future in her north, whom the Amazons adopt and allow her to evolve in a classic plot of growth or “coming of age”.
Then you will find out what your relationship is with the other members of the cast. But I’ll leave it here to avoid spoilers.
Viola Davis endorses her status as the Meryl Streep with afro hair, bordering on a one-person telluric that goes from the physical to the emotional commitment with her character as leader of the ensemble.
The camera enhances her body, her archetypal condition as demigoddess and star, capturing in detail her scars and torments, her traumas and violations.
However, she far exceeds the stereotype of victim and avenger, to break the crystal syndrome that defines the current era.
Viola tells us, through “The Woman King”, that recognition does not fall from the sky, or is inherited for reasons of blood or beauty. She thus sends a message to contemporary monarchies of nobility and influencer appearance.
In his declaration of principles, Davis exposes the sacrifice and value of merit, to earn the respect of his own and occupy a position in the power structure, at the height of any hierarch.
As a critic, I point out three themes that concern the Hollywood gaze, according to the multicultural format that Ella Shoat and Robert Stam studied in a famous book about ethnocentric aesthetics.
They point out that the mecca likes to cultivate a spectacular exoticism in the form of representing the third world, as a space always mythical, archaic and subjugated by colonial pain, in which tropes are paradoxically recomposed from the perspective of “noble savages” and “human zoo”, for the contemplation of Western eyes.
At the Anthropological Museum of Paris and the Impressionists, I had the opportunity to attend exhibitions that problematize such ethnic imaginaries.
What is interesting is that “The Woman King” is not satisfied with reproducing clichés, but rather offers a vindication of the so-called traditions of resistance, of the aesthetics of injustice and the struggle for civil rights, which today animate the women of small towns. oppressed people like Iran to stand up and say enough is enough.
So the balance is positive and inspiring.
Go see it with your mothers, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, daughters, girlfriends. They will enjoy a modern reading of the emergence and transcendence of the matriarchy, of the ladies who are the pillar of the house and the family.