Movie Review: 'War Witch' -- 3.5 stars

"War Witch"

"War Witch" (Credit: "War Witch")

War Witch
3.5 stars
Directed by Kim Nguyen
Starring Rachel Mwanza
In French and Lingala with English subtitles

Komona, a 12-year-old girl living in an unnamed African country, is enjoying a peaceful afternoon with her family when rebel soldiers storm the village and force Komona to murder her parents before kidnapping and conscripting her.

The first scene in Kim Nguyen's "War Witch," it's a stark, gripping horror, one played out far too often across the African continent and throughout the globe.

The drama, nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at last weekend's Oscar and starring an extraordinary young actress named Rachel Mwanza, follows Komona's plight in the rebel army from age 12 to 14.

Shot largely in close-up and sticking to Komona's point of view, the film is less concerned with promoting a particular message than telling a classic story of human perseverance.

The movie follows Komona's journey from her horrific induction into the brutal rebels to a point where she is able to reassert control over her destiny.

It's brutal terrain and Nguyen doesn't hold back. But more importantly, "War Witch" is the portrait of a girl who retains her dignity and strength, her faith in the future, in the face of unimaginable horrors. It's inspirational in a very real way.

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