Prophetess: A confluence of spirituality and criminality with over N140mln tag (Review)
On April 2, 2021, Anthill Productions and FilmOne’s comedy film, Prophetess, had its world premiere in Nigerian theaters.
Directed by Niyi Akinmolayan, co-written by Niyi and Yusuf Carew and Amaka Chidoka, the movie stars Toyin Abraham, Kehinde Bankole, Deyemi Okanlawon, Kunle Remi, Lateef Adedimeji, and Tina Mba and others. Additionally, Ronke Oshodi-Oke, Muyiwa Ademola, Stan Nze, Uzor Arukwe, and Seyi Awolowo, a participant on the 2019 season of Big Brother Naija, made an appearance.
Here’s a belated but important review of the movie, which grossed over N140million across Nigeria cinemas and garnered a large fan base in 2021. The box office success of Prophetess was sort of a shock to its critics who thought the story and set was too ordinary to generate as much viewership, giving that Nollywood hits hold common traits of showing the pop culture.
Prophetess tells the story of a prophetess who unwittingly made a series of forecasts that all came true, prompting an entire community to wager on her last prediction about how a relegated side will beat one of the league’s top teams.
The protagonist of the tale is Ajoke (Toyin Abraham), a prophetess whose capers are caught on camera by Dipo (Kunle Remi) and posted on social media. Salewa (Tina Mba) and Iya Ibeji (Ronke Oshodi-Oke), OAP Dipo, who resides in Lagos and with a huge fan base, to Ajoke for cleansing. The prophetess responds to various inquiries from Dipo with some insights that the audience could take the wrong way. When two of her prophecies come true, people all around Oyo State place a huge, unconventional bet on a neighborhood football game. As a club that was demoted, WonderBoys faced overwhelming odds, and they manage to pull off an unlikely triumph.
Ajoke wakes up to a large group of new parishioners after the news went viral, and Dipo gains another 100,000 Instagram followers as a result. However, as political candidate Amani Olofaina (Seyi Awolowo), who fell for Ajoke’s trick, soon disturbs the quiet in the church, the cause-and-effect run of the plot began. Soon, Labake (played by Kehinde Bankole) enters and engages Ajoke in combat after spotting Ajoke on TV earlier that day. According to the storyline, Ajoke and Labake are sisters, and seven years ago, Ajoke fled with Labake’s money. The money was intended for investments by Labake in her future, which led to their sisterly animosity. However, the reason why they fought was because Labake, who was still carrying around the hurt from the past, couldn’t bear to lose more money to Ajoke as Hakeem, whose relationship to the family is unmentioned, placed a bet with the $300,000 that had been sent to him for their mother’s medical expenses.
Akinmolayan exhibits an entitled attitude prepared to place the blame elsewhere when the word circulated that the first forecasts were only happenstance and that there was a rabid crowd during the same wave. As soon as this problem involved some extremely dangerous characters, including Fogo Bombastic, a well-known street mafia lord who threatens to kill Ajoke and her nephew if her prophesy fails, Ajoke and Dipo immediately set out to solve it.
Fond Nollywood memories prior to the age of extravagant costumes and high-tech cameras were stoked by Prophetess. It is not a flawless movie though. Far from it, and to be perfectly honest, it makes no effort to be. Prophetess is a melodramatic movie about melodramatic individuals, despite the fact that it contains probably an excessive amount of melodrama.
You might initially wonder why the movie continues to capitalize on the cliched dramatization of a religious practice of ‘white garment’ churches, but the plot goes to reveal credible themes touching tale of suffering, rejection, family, and salvation. The fact that Prophetess is about regular people, in our opinion, is what endeared it to the moviegoers the most.
Prophetess’ problem is that most of the humour appears to be an outcome of the performance, not the actual content of the movie. Though the performance is excellent, the lines are not up to par. The conversation might occasionally come out as being very commonplace and unoriginal. Although Prophetess has humour, it suffers from humour that is centred on the actors rather than the picture.
The plot was skillfully crafted to reflect a number of societal truths, including the themes of love and forgiveness within a family, religious sentiments that influence decision-making, employer-employee relationships, mob mentality, social media trolling, and sports fandom, by award-winning director Niyi Akinmolayan. It is also quite intriguing how the author gently highlighted the poor condition of our regional football clubs and the disregard for former players and football legends. Nollytrailers thought the intertwined storylines were insightful and well-integrated.
Casting and Acting
The cast of the film represented a diverse range of individuals from various backgrounds, with various aspirations, and leading various lives. We witnessed the difficulties and obstacles faced by actual people experiencing actual emotions while going about their daily lives. From the wealthy to the poor, tech-savvy to inept, educated to ignorant, the characters were not out of place and were discovered in their natural elements, right down to the finer points of their appearances and etiquette.
Nollytrailers would like to assume that the performers who portrayed each role did a better job of capturing the personality of the characters than anyone else could have. With Toyin Abraham playing the major role and actors like Kehinde Bankole and Lateef Adedimeji.
The Prophetess chose a genuine and well-thought-out place; Ibadan has a long history. The director documented the city’s historical past by photographing prominent and noteworthy landmarks such as the Liberty Stadium, Mapo Hall, and a few more. The characters’ separate residences were also nicely chosen, with a clear portrayal of and differentiation between rural and urban areas.
Niyi, with this project, once again demonstrates that intriguing cinematography is not all about choice locations and beautiful landscape. The A-List filmmaker here displayed a strong command of image compositions and shots that effectively told the tale. The use of on-screen social network pop-ups spiced the story-telling – they were funny, extremely realistic, and added to the story’s growth.
Sound Design and Music
The uniqueness of this film’s musical creations was a joy to the ears. The invention of a character song for “Fogo Bombastic,” as well as the majority of the instrumentals used, was fantastic. At times, the music was a rich mash-up of well-known Yoruba songs. Some may argue that Yoruba people would like and relate to the music more as a result of this, however ethnicity is not a barrier to appreciating the mood generated by the music at various moments throughout the film.
It is also worth noting the sharp and clear sound production. Sounds that appeared to be routine, such as the crushing of pepper – a mannerism by one of the characters – were intensified for a greater impression.
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Ẹlẹ́ṣin Ọba, the King’s Horseman
By Olobe Yoyon
The new Netflix movie, Ẹlẹ́ṣin Ọba, the King’s Horseman is another adaptation of Wọlé Ṣóyínká timeless 1975 play, Death and the King’s Horseman. The play was inspired by Dúró Ládipọ̀’s 1964 play, Ọba Wàjà (The King is dead).
Both plays are based on a real incident which unsettled the ancient city of Ọ̀yọ́ when a British civil servant prevented the sacrificial suicide of a town chief, Ẹlẹ́ṣin, who was ritually prepared to obey custom and follow his late king to the grave.
In Ọba Wàjà, Dúró Ládipọ̀ tells the story of one Abọ́bakú (one who is required by custom to die with the king) who due to the intervention of a British District Officer, became doubtful of the duty of his office, a most shameful thing to his honour and his family.
Dáwódù, Ẹlẹ́ṣin’s son was disgusted by his father behaviour in breaking faith with tradition. He decided to take upon himself the burden of the office and do the needful. He insulted his father till his last breath, for being cowardly.
Ẹlẹ́ṣin took his life as he was supposed to, however his honour was already gone, and he had also lost his first son. “This is the white man’s doing,’ he cried, ‘the British official, trying to save one life, has caused two deaths.”
Ṣóyínká’s Death and the King’s Horseman is set in the Ọ̀yọ́ Kingdom in south-west Nigeria in the early 1940s. Ọ̀yọ́ tradition demands that Ẹlẹ́ṣin Ọba, the king’s horseman, must commit suicide before the king is buried in order for his spirit to lead the king’s to the great beyond.
However, Ẹlẹ́ṣin Ọba failed in his duty. The story ends on a tragic note, his son, Olunde, has to return from studying medicine abroad to commit suicide in place of his father.
The importance and impact of this story cannot be overemphasised. It has been performed in many countries across the world.
The theme of the clash of cultures continues to resonate with people and further enlightens audiences about colonialism, that no culture is superior to another.
In this Netflix film, the richness of Yoruba culture, its language, music, fashion, dance, proverbs etc, are brought to life. Kudos to late Biyi Bandele for the job well done.
The main lessons from the story include:
As a person, you have a sense of duty to your ancestors and your people.
To Europeans represented by Mr Pilkings and his wife, if you do not understand a culture, ignorance is not a crime but conduct arising from ignorance can be. Be humble enough to ask why things are being done the way custodians of tradition do their things even if they sound ridiculous to you.
A great inspiration should be drawn from the character of Olunde, the British educated son of Ẹlẹ́ṣin Ọba who trained in England as a medical doctor. In spite of his western education, he still understands his culture and his family ties.
Whatever you do, do not abandon your mother tongue. Do not trample on your tradition. Do not throw away your culture. Do not mock our Òrìṣà and Irúnmọlẹ̀.
N.B: Culture is not static, it is in a state of constant flux. Some of our old traditions are no longer relevant in today’s world. We have rightly long abandoned the practice of ritual suicide in Yorubaland.
I watched the film in Yoruba and I love it. Will try the English voice over tomorrow.
Brotherhood: Nigerian prisons, the postgraduate school of criminality (Review)
They have been numerous testimonies of the life behind the walls of Nigerian prisons. Beyond the common understanding of its inhuman state, records have shown that a lot of the inmates somehow find their way back to crime and back there. Findings establish that innocent individuals, from those who had a stint with crime to the downright hardened criminal, often become worse after a Nigerian prison experience. It’s safe to infer that the prison that ought to be a correctional facility has become an instructional facility for the advancement of crime and criminality – a sort of postgraduate school.
Jade Osiberu and Abdul Tijani-Ahmed’s story dubbed in Greoh Studios’ latest release, Brotherhood, captures the reality and eventualities of this failure of the government to put our prisons in shape.
Brotherhood is a crime and action movie produced by Jade Osiberu, and released for screening across Nigerian cinemas on the 23rd of September, 2022. The movie ensemble top Nollywood, Nigerian music, comedy stars, and an array of ex-Bigbrother Naija housemates in what seemed like a BBNaija reunion. The cast includes Toni Tones, Jide Kene Achufusi, OC Ukeje, Mercy Aigbe, Bright ‘Basket Mouth’ Okpocha, Zubby Micheal, Ronke Oshodi Oke, Sam Dede, Deyemi Okanlawon, Comedians Basketmouth and Adebowale ‘Mr Macroni’ Adedayo, musical superstars, Folarin ‘Falz’ Falana and Omawunmi. The BBNaija HM ensemble includes Tobi Bakre, Diane Russet, Seyi Awolowo, Dorathy Bachor and Boma Akpore.
The film was directed by the super talented filmmaker from Uganda, Loukman Ali, who is making his Nigerian directorial debut with Brotherhood movie.
Loukman Ali has a couple of films he has directed inclusive of: The Girl in the Yellow Jumper, The Blind Date and The Bad Mexican.
Summary of the Story
Brotherhood centres on the dichotomous life of twin brothers- Wale (played by Falz) and Akin (played by Tobi Bakre), who were thrown into the ‘trenches’ at a very young age when their parents were killed on New Year’s day. Their parents were making their way home from the traditional crossover service that had been held in church.
As orphans without any extended family support, the two young boys are caught in the menacing world of Lagos streets. Trying to survive meant they had to find whatever means to make ends meet. Soon, time on the streets honed their skills in a plethora of social vices with Akin leading his brother on the dire path of ruthless survival.
Akin would later go to jail for stealing anti-malaria drugs when Wale got very sick. That becomes a pattern in his life as he gets more desperate, trumping society in his fraught search for a life without lack. Wale, on the other hand, charted a different path outside crime and soon joins the police force to achieve his dream of fighting crime, motivated by the circumstances surrounding the death of their parents.
The contradiction in the chosen life paths of the brothers so strains their relationship and brews tension amongst them that they became each other’s nemesis, albeit still very much concerned about each other’s welfare.
Akin for the umpteenth time got out of jail with a sworn resolve never to return, but would somehow get reunited with an old friend (‘Cobra’, played by OC Ukeje) from the early years of petty street crimes. Cobra introduces him to the deadliest robbery gang in town, the Ojuju Boys and with Akin’s intelligent criminal mind, a grand heist plan that he and another inmate acquaintance back in jail had nursed was soon hatched. Wale ironically, gets admitted into an elite police squad that handles the toughest crimes. Soon the brothers, the best at their chosen career paths are made to face each other in a battle of good against evil, yet connected in their hearts by the bond of brotherhood.
Analysis of Plot Elements
Akin is the protagonist of the story, who hoped to beat life to the frailties of lack at all costs. He assumed he could snatch out fortunes from high society without necessarily causing any casualty. Akin’s exposure to the dark world of crime had not taken is pure respect for the sanctity of life out of him. His grand play was to make one big heist and retire to a crimeless life with newfound love. Akin’s purpose was to hit up, clean up, and move up the ladder without the recompense for his actions.
Akin’s twin, Wale, is the antagonist of the story, whose sole purpose was to ensure criminals get the consequences of their actions in the hand of the law. Though Wale has built a strong character for achieving his dreams in the build-up to the climax of the story, his hitherto stealth history with his criminal twin-brother becomes a wound when he finds love in the arms of the daughter of the elite squad’s ‘supercop’ leader.
The plot easily introduces the protagonist and the antagonist in the first few minutes into the film, setting up a strong personality distinction that can be followed throughout the film. As Akin’s purpose attracted all its propellers, Wale’s too got a graceful build-up. The progress of the brothers in their divergent paths formed the rising actions, each character acquiring formal and romantic relationships along the way to a head-on collision.
The story hits a crescendo when Akin’s gang wanted to double down on their earlier success of jerking a bullion van with a double, same-day robbery of two more bullion vans. This time on low intel, which Akin questioned and used as an alibi to ditch the gang and their plan. Akin’s soft forwarding toward his new girlfriend and the gang’s only female member brought him back into the disaster-bound plan. Just at this point, Akin had erroneously killed Wale’s father-in-law in self-defence during the first of the planned same-day twin robbery. The SWAT team and now his brother knowing he was part of the robbery that killed his father-in-law, are out for a vengeful and brutal attack when the radio came about the ongoing second robbery attempt.
The story begins to wind down as the various other characters within the gang got killed and the most vicious, Cobra, grassed everyone right at the heart of the deadly robbery and made away with the money, leaving them to their death.
The final moments of the story saw the brothers face each other in a gun duel, albeit Wale sorted to safely disarm Akin, his colleagues couldn’t let him go without a hit. As Akin falls into the lagoon from the top of bridge with bullet injuries, the plot’s closure was left open-ended, until it is revealed that he magically survived, recovered the stolen monies from Cobra, and eloped to live his dream.
Analysis of Creative Elements
Though the story is not entirely unique, the fine details and detour of the script make it worth viewers time and money. When to come to the nuances and how everything connects, it is brilliant storytelling as captured by the scriptwriter and interpreted by the movie’s director, Loukman Ali. For example, how Akin’s plan was conceived from a conversation with a fellow inmate at the prison, got human resources from a vicious gang who had come to rob him only for the leader to be his old friend, the connect with Sanusi (played by Boma), the ex-military arm dealer, all but galvanized the perfect spotlight on the security mess of the nation.
Also, the smart use of dispatch bikes as the courier for monies gotten at the robbery spot and eventual transloading into Eko Meat Van to obfuscate the loot trail sets the story up for an interesting viewers’ journey.
The dialogues too are rich, though on some occasions I failed to take the last leap to hitting the ‘quotable’ threshold. An instance is the scene where Cobra introduces Akin to Shadow (the secret head of the Ojuju Boys gang). Akin while downloading his grand plan to rob bullion vans to Shadow went with a ‘following my gist’ check in street parlance, “Shey you de visualize my plan, boss?”. Shadow replied trying to express skepticism for the too risky venture Akin had painted, “I no de visualize you plan o”. That line too bland for that atmosphere. The dialogue could have been taken a notch higher with a touch on comedy with, “No I no the visualize your plan, na your death I de visualize”.
Casting and Characterization
The casting director played a smart one with the array of stars culled from three showbiz sectors of movie, music, and comedy. Africans are always waiting to see how their favourite BBNaija housemates progress in life. Bringing five hot ones from three years editions is a genius one to command viewership from their broad audience.
Tobi Bakre showed with this project that he has honed his acting skills. The characterization of the protagonist character was not only excellent but very commendable. Roleplaying an action figure takes a little work. He must have had months of preparation, physical fitness training, gun handling, etc., Tobi was at his very best and can be credited for the great output of the movie in terms of characterization. The highlight was when he fell from the top of the bridge into the lagoon. Judging by the technical details that was really an about hundred kilos man plunging down over 200m.
Falz, though delivered on most fronts, was not quite a good fit for the lover boy role. Perhaps the stereotype of him be unserious just ‘colloquialized’ his serious, romantic heart-to-heart conversionations. His kiss with Kamsi (played by Dorathy BBNaija) was so real. Then, he goes to ask for her hand in marriage with a piece of thread spurned around her hand. The magic of that scene would have happened only if Falz wasn’t coming across as unserious.
Bringing back the Isakaba legend, Sam Dede as the head of SWAT is yet another brilliant call of the casting director. Of course, Sam delivered a five-star characterization.
The only obvious fail with the casting is Mr Macroni. He struggled all through to portray the personality of a hardened criminal. His facial expressions were alien to the expected emotions in most scenes. It was too obvious that he was trying too hard to look hard.
OC Ukeje, Ronke Oshodi Oke, Zubby Micheal, Omawunmi also did quite well.
Loukman Ali once again delivered on this one. The 2021 winner of the Best Short Film at the Uganda Film Festival and nominee for 2021 Best Short Film, at Durban International Film Festival brought out his best in the Directing and Cinematography of this film. Loukman’s input will be the best creative piece in this film. The shots are a beautiful work of art. The use of natural light, professional lights, angles, ambience, and props are excellent transitions are only the sort of things you can expect from a talented director of photography. Some intriguing scenes are the point where Akin is photographed from the ceiling with all the muscle and distortions of a ghetto set, and the next thing is a braless girl holding up a gun to his head. Then the scene where Akin shows up at the loot pick-up point after he fell into the lagoon, all to the shock of Cobra, the traitor. This scene was a perfect reenact of a typical John Wick scene. Scare light in a deserted remote cottage, double barrel gun in a wounded arm, one shot is fired, and Cobra is pummeled out through the door, body squatted on a green lawn in a brisk moonlight night, the camera zooms up to reveal the entire set of deliberate collections of nature and mother scene, a wow sight is delivered!
The costumes were also on point. The scar on Shadow’s face, the smudging of the gang members’ faces and all the nice selection of crazy appearances.
The sound design/music is not bad, could have been better though. For a Nollywood attempt at action, it’s really a job well done. The smashing of tables, kicks, door bursting, gunshots, and night time wizzling, were in sync with the expected emotions the script hoped to play. The best use of sound is the Akin vs Cobra last showdown. Just before the killer shot, Akin goes, “Koni da fun awon to ni e (E no go better for the people wey get you)”, a brief silence, a deafening sound of big gunshot and a perfect action scene sound, that leads the camera out to the ground outside, where Cobra’s corpse laid, and then the pitter-pattering sound of rain, altogether gave this work a perfect ending.
Verdict (4.5 stars)
Overall production quality: 4/5
Tears, despair, snare of Nigeria’s unjust justice system – ‘Inside Life’ Movie Review (3.1)
As at August 2022, about 52,000 out of 74,000 inmates in Nigerian prisoners are waiting many years to be served justice; only 3 out of every 10 people languishing in Nigerian prisons have been convicted. What is more pathetic is the circumstances surrounding how some found themselves behind bars and the agonizing situation of spending years in Nigeria’s shanty prisons. If anything is worse than slave trade, it is the black man’s most populous nation’s snare of despair denominated as justice system.
Lanre Olorunnishola was caught in the trap of Nigeria’s unjust system, wrongfully incarcerated and served the sour taste of a dehumanizing prison experience. Unlike the lot of 90% of such victims, he was fortunate enough to get a chance at life after spending 11 days. He goes on to write a book about his experience (called ‘Prison Notes’) and a friend who’s a veteran TV production guru, Chuks Enete partnered to wax the story for the silver screen as his own debut solo film project.
‘Inside Life’ produced by Siloth Studios and distributed by Silverbird Film Distribution is an adaption of Lanre’s story and laudable spotlight on worthy indignation towards Nigeria’s judiciary. The movie by AIT and Iroko TV-famed filmmaker, Chuks Enete was premiered at the Silverbird Galleria on the 8th of September and released to cinemas across Nigeria on the following day. The film is co-written by the story’s protagonist, Lanre Olorunnishola, and Chuks Enete, directed by Tope Adebayo Salami, edited by Dipo Teniola. The movie casted Wole Ojo, Broda Shaggi, Nnedu of Wazobia FM, Romeo WJ, Tina Mba, Koloman, Belinda Effah, Saka, Ropo Ewenla, and Okey Uzoeshi. Others include MC Benkash, Chukwuka Jude, Jerry Okpan, Jay Hemkay, Zara Udofia Ejoh, Yinka Aiyelokun, Peter Oladeji, Funsho Adeolu, Enechukwu Uche, Ekiti Father and Eric Obinna, while Idowu Adedapo is Director of Photography.
Summary of the Story
A few days before his wedding, Larry (Wole Ojo) is assigned to represent his boss at a court hearing, a prolonged civil dispute with the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSTIF), over Chief’s (Larry’s MD played by Chuks Enete) headstrong refusal to pay his dues to the agency, premised on a rebellion against paying government while he bares the skyrocketing cost of running his business alone. The company’s lawyer (played by Okey Uzoeshi) does not show up and NSTIF’s lawyer (Tina Mba) got the magistrate to wrongfully remand Larry in prison as a lesson to the company for disregarding the court process.
Larry needs to fight for his release for his wedding to his sweetheart fiancée (Belinda Effah), but then, he must learn to survive the dire condition of the prison and come out alive regardless. Larry moves from being a dove in the raft of ducks to flirting with the pangs for survival. His initial ability to gain rare privileges with the prison officials earned him enmity with hitherto protective cell lords, but his ingenious charity to all cellmates soon got him affable attention much that the toughest of the lot (played by Broda Shagi) sort out his help, sharing with him even more distressing stories of his own wrongful imprisonment and total despair.
Analysis of the Plot Elements
The movie begins with an aloof brutal murder scene, blacks out, and transitions to a gothic scene of two lovers waking up to early morning curdle and reminiscence of their ‘bedmatic’ through the night. Within the first minute of the plot’s exposition, one can tell the dichotomous style of the plot.
The story slowly moves from the everyday life of young hardworking hopefuls and sharply turns to the details of life’s capriciousness. Maybe this makes a good reason for naming it Inside Life.
To us at Nollytrailers, we think the writers, perhaps riding on the power of epic storytelling, smartly unfolded the story’s main characters, hinting by dialogue and actions, their personalities, and quickly erupting emotive followership for the audience.
The rising actions were a steady climb towards the climax. Larry moves from being a fine eligible bachelor, high-profile staff of his company, who had just been gifted a huge sum as his MD’s support towards his forthcoming wedding, to a stunned witness in the box in a case he had no clue about, then to a benevolent but angry suspect who had to pay for his own transportation to prison, then to a star inmate who has privileged unrestricted access to the chief warder’s office, and then to a co-parker in the rigour and torture of life in a crowded prison cell, with perhaps no certainty of regaining his freedom anytime soon, since the judge on his case has suddenly collapsed and is incapacitated to hear his case on the next adjournment.
The climax came quite full-stack, comically captured by Dele’s (the president of the prison cell) initial wisdom to Larry, “When jungle don mature, okoro go know where him de”. Larry suffers the same fate as other inmates; external visits stopped and privileges vanished as usual contacts either got transferred or put out of reach by other wardens whom he had earlier spoken to arrogantly when he first got there.
The falling actions go on a sublime decent into the closure, but wisely picturing the story’s theme of the importance of faith and the eventual embrace of the miracle-working potency of praying and believing when all other things fail. Larry’s atheist position soon gets transformed once he recognised that only a miracle can get him off the hooks.
From believing to reforming, Larry’s travail captured all the important steps that leads towards the resolution of the story’s critical matter and a restoration to status quo.
There’s a part of the movie that is brilliantly left for the interpretation of the audience, which leaves an intuitive open end – Larry, while in jail, had a dream that his fiancée was celebrating with the company’s lawyer the success of their evil plan to have him reprimanded by trapping him with the lawyer’s absence from court. The dream meant that his most beloved and trusted human was the mastermind of his tribulations.
The writers never gave a material concession to the substance of this dream and as such left it to the imagination of the audience.
Analysis of Creative Elements
If there is anything that stands out with this movie, it is the powerful story it tells. The writers did an incredible job of interpreting Lanre Oluwanishola’s true life story by setting the entire project mainly on the prison experience. Just that would have likely been a bore to the comedy-loving Nigerian audience, but smartly, the script was spiced up with apt comic relieves.
For instance, there’s a scene where Larry was tearing and condemning religion with the assertion that organized religion was a big scam. He shortly realized painfully a little later that his seemly short imprisonment may become elongated. He turns to Dele to wail, complaining also about the rice that was served the prisoners and asking why not yam instead. The cell’s ‘presido’ hits back at his lack of regard for the power of prayers with sarcasm, “The yam you need to chop now na I am than I am”.
The dialogues are brilliant, funny and well laced with wisdom – able to instruct heavily on the irony of a supposedly blessed nation and the agony of its people. Unlike a lot of works that feature an array of comedy skit makers, this did justice to the effort at sprinkling light-hearted-moments without having unnecessary overtures.
Broda Shagi had a brilliant display of street jokes and ‘agberoism’ that is a prefect reflection of the life in a Nigerian prison. Dele was such a perfect character of a hard but wise cell lord, dropping doses of ghetto wisdom – profound in its depth, but crude and funny in its tone. One noteworthy excerpt is his stump reaction to Larry’s denial of reality, where he encouraged him to eat what was served in prison. In response to Larry’s insistence that he had no appetite, Dele goes “Designer prisoner. You no get appetite ba, no worry jungle go soon mature and you go know say last last Mandela chop Apartheid”.
Quite a rib-cracking joke but also an en explosive dialogue that connects the realities of the unjust justice system of Apartheid South Africa to that of present day Nigeria. It also delves into the projection of the fate of the character who seem too headstrong to embrace the present and will be well on the way to spending a long time in prison if he does not explore the power for miracles.
Casting and Characterization
Most of the actors were in character, though a few would have done better. Chief (The MD) played by the executive producer himself, Chuks Enete, beyond the apt ‘Ogene’ sounds that accentuated his scenes, was short of perfect in roleplaying. There was an obvious effort to fit into the personality of a crude wealthy Igbo businessman. This easily give up the mystery that ought to come with interpreting the role and therefore is below the current industry standard.
Belinda Effah was also not at her best. Her interpretation of a devastated fiancée visiting her partner in jail was short of believability. She acted and sounded like a starter in a drama rehearsal. Watching her, the character’s pain could not be felt, her confusion was not obvious and expected exasperation towards the company was totally silent.
Wole Ojo delivered Larry’s character to the fullest. Every step of the way, there was no emotion, personality or nuances of the character that was not communicated; Larry’s ego was depicted in and off the mic and the personality transformations were well captured in his acting. Kudos!
Brother Shaggi and Nedu did justice to the characters of leading the ‘Ikoyi vs Agege’ strata of the prison; personalities, checked! Dialogue, checked! Actions and reactions, checked!
The casting is also quite good. Love the minor roles of the big names like Tina Mba and Funsho Adeolu. The cast, safe for a few snags, by frame and personality fused perfectly into the plot of the story and delivered quite well its themes.
Directing is but an okay job for this movie. There are obvious issues with the sets, costumes and transitions that ought not to have skipped the calls of Dipo Teniola and Tope Adebayo.
For instance the costume is totally unbelievable! Here are prisoners who have stayed an average of 2 years in jail, all having stylish clean shaves. The dialogue at the chief warden’s office hinted that Larry was going into a 35-man cell, the shots were set in a less than 15-man prison, almost scanty.
Dipo Adedapo may have given his best to this but there are certainly no wow moments from the filming of this movie. It is nothing more than basic shots.
There were efforts to add some creativity through camera techniques but that also fell flat – the filming at a tilted angle combined with shaky panning just didn’t work quite well.
The lighting at the main set also could have been better. In fact, it presented the cinematographer an opportunity to display creativity, given that over 70% of the movie was shot on that set. Nigerian prisons are often quite dark, poorly ventilated with walls riddled with amateurish graffiti. Dapo could have ridden on this to explore tricks like off-subject shots in silhouette or playing creatively with exposure, extra lighting for focus matter or even sunrays-drop background for early morning dialogues, etc.
Tosin Amire, the young FUTA graduate of Applied Mathematics turned sound designer, did a great job on the sound design for this film. The sound in some scenes helped to enliven the poor performance of some acts, like that of Chief (The ‘igbotic’ MD). Though the sound production quality could have been better, but the large-scale original compositions were good and aptly distributed across the movie’s scenes.
The overall production quality is average. This is owing to the less emphasis placed on Directing and Cinematography. This would have easily been a 4 star movie.
Inside Life is easily a high-recommendation movie chiefly because of its powerful story, theme and overall message to the nation. It is also a good pick for a couple’s date night (would have been great for a family was it not for the few scenes of gunshots). You will be sure to really get cracked up seeing this movie.
Hit the cinemas to see for yourselves, better with company though, you don’t want to deal with laughing and falling on a stranger’s shoulders if you are alone. You might just receive sneer or slap. In the words of Broda Shagi in the film, “Who de microwave liver for you?”
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