War Witch Movie Review
You're a kid. You're forced to kill your parents. You are then taken, put on drugs and become a child soldier. This is the uplifting story told in War Witch, an Oscar nominee for Best Foreign Language Picture.
The movie rests squarely on the shoulders of Rachel Mwanza, who delivers a terrific performance as 14-year old Komona. The entire movie revolves around her, with brief interactions with other supporting characters along the way. Mwanza is completely believable, immersing herself in a role that requires her to be the most tormented of souls, but also someone who through that torment has forced her emotions deep beneath the surface.
The screenplay, by director Kim Nguyen, is also great, taking a very matter-of-fact approach to Komona's story. Nguyen largely avoids melodrama; War Witch presents the atrocities depicted on screen like they occur every day - which, sadly, they do - and never dwells on them longer than the characters would realistically do. Doing so actually makes what happens throughout the movie all the more disturbing and impactful.
War Witch loses some of its potency toward the end for whatever reason, perhaps because as Komona's life looks like it's on the upswing, the story's focus becomes less clear.
Still, War Witch is a powerful movie with a powerful story. Well worth watching for those who can stomach it.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.