THE WOMAN KING – Review by Susan Granger

One of the many benefits of inclusion is the ability to learn about historical events that have never before been chronicled on the big screen. Set in 1823, this story follows Nawi (Thuso Mbebu), a rebellious Dahomey teenager who refuses an arranged marriage; infuriated, her father forces her to join warrior force known as the Agojie, commanded by General Nanisca (Viola Davis). Working from a jumbled, often overly melodramatic script by Maria Bello and Dana Stevens, director Gina Prince-Blythewood delivers a rousing, action-packed adventure.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 23, 2022: THE WOMAN KING

In the African kingdom of Dahomey, now a part of Benin, an elite all-female military regiment of warriors called the Agojie guarded the king and his subjects from the 1600s through the 1800s. By the mid-19th century, they accounted for a third of the entire Dahomey army. That’s history, and the inspiration for director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s historical epic The Woman King, starring Viola Davis, one of the few studio films releasing in 2022 directed by a female filmmaker.

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NANNY (TIFF 2022) – Review by Cate Marquis

Nanny speaks to feminist issues, racial ones, and immigrant experiences as well as the perennial American Dream, making it an ambitious and worthy drama with creative reach. Writer-director Nikyatu Jusu’s thoughtfully mixes drama with mystical surreal sequences about a Senegalese mother working as a nanny in the U.S. while worrying about her own young son back in her home country. Nanny is a worthy, intriguing film, but one where its reach at times exceeds its grasp, although it mostly hits its target straight on.

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PRISONER’S DAUGHTER (TIFF 2022) – Review by Ulkar Alakbarova

When you read the synopsis about a man who is being released from prison on grounds of compassion, you think it’s going to be another action film in which an elderly man must fight his past enemies. It is the first thing that comes to a mind once you hear about Prisoner’s Daughter. However, the moment the film starts, it takes a different turn, a surprising one. With screenplay by Mark Bacci and directed by Catherine Hardwicke, Prisoner’s Daughter is a feel good story.

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STELLAR (TIFF 2022) – Review by Leslie Combemale

Darlene Naponse, a member of the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek First Nation in Northern Ontario, Canada, uses Stellar to create a world outside of time wherein She and He can, from a safe distance, examine a world that centers on white people. They are also witness to an apocalypse, one that seems to be about the genocide, assimilation, and betrayal of First Nation Canadians, and at other times speaks to the global warming and environmental disasters created by the white world.

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RAYMOND & RAY (TIFF 2022) – Review by Ulkar Alakbarova

Shows how little we know about our parents, especially how little Raymond and Ray know; if their father had a chance, he would probably impregnate every woman he ever dated! Even though the brothers have nothing good to say about him, it’s their father’s friends and acquaintances who are fond of him. Maybe their father was a better friend, a good lover, but never a good parent. It’s something the brothers must explore in order to find a way to cure themselves from the hatred they have buried in their heart and begin their new life with a new chapter.

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DRIVING MADELINE (TIFF 2022) – Review by Ulkar Alakbarova

“Can the man who beats you day and night. Who rapes you and hits your son can be called a husband?” Driving Madeline explores the past trauma of an elderly woman, who knew how to fight back when the right moment came. Filled with sadness and laughter, happiness and tragic loss, the film transports you into the mind of Madeline, who flawlessly delivers the most educational aspect of domestic violence, femicide, perseverance, courage and the stories she tells, be prepared, will blow your mind away.

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THE WHALE (TIFF 2022) – Review by Ulkar Alakbarova

The Whale is exceptional, brilliant, and mind-blowing. The concept itself is gut-wrenching. Darren Aronofsky does what he knows best – capturing the portrait of a broken human being and presenting it in the most devastating way. For that, he just needed to find the right actor and, Brendan Fraser was the chosen one. Don’t be surprised when he begins to grab one award after another because no one can match his level of acting this year – that’s what we all must be certain of.

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THE WOMAN KING – Review by Loren King

One of the most goosebump-inducing scenes in any big release this fall is the moment in The Woman King when an army of women warriors led by the fierce and radiant Viola Davis rise up in unison from the tall grass and run into battle. Director Gina Prince-Bythewood, who proved she could tackle the action genre last year with Netflix’s The Old Guard, has crafted a crowd pleaser that blends the historical epics of David Lean; recent action adventures with relevant themes such as Black Panther and Wonder Woman; and intimate, visceral drama about sisterhood, trauma and empowerment.

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THE WOMAN KING (TIFF 2022) – Review by Cate Marquis

Do you like an epic film, one with rousing battle scenes, exciting fight choreography, a great story and memorable characters? Then The Woman King is for you, because it has it all. Yes, Gina Price-Bythewood’s The Woman King, a historical epic set in early 19th century Africa starring Viola Davis, is all that – and right out of the gate, was a big hit at the Toronto International Film Festival.

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