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Prophetess: Typical Nollywood and why it fails to hit differently

Prophetess: Typical Nollywood and why it fails to hit differently

The movie’s cast members include Toyin Abraham, Seyi Awolowo, Kehinde Bankole, Kunle Remi, Ronke Ojo, Tina Mba, Adedimeji Lateef, Deyemi Okanlawon, and Uzor Arukwe among others.

There’s no need to perambulate while trying to attempt a summary of the film, it is pretty simple: Prophetess tells the story of Ajoke (Toyin Abraham), a local prophetess, who predicts a football match which leads to a series of events beyond her control.

However, unlike the synopsis, the larger-scale of events in the film is in shambles. The film’s premise, although interesting and solid, is soon blown out of proportion and, like the crowd scenes, it lacks proper direction; a noisy affair!

I have always argued that comedy – because of its relative nature – is one of the most difficult genres to write both for stage and screen. So when I see a film fall under the genre, I am keen to see it with interest and rapt attention.

It is argued that comedy is intellectual while tragedy is emotional. Hence, the popular quote “…the world is full of tragedy for those who feel but full of comedy for those who think”.

This is to say that comedy is mentally tasking and requires the brain to be at work and this by extension means that all comedies, no matter how high or low, must present a mental task that will be underlined by a soulful, deep and refined message.

Niyi Akinmolayan‘s Prophetess is almost nothing but a tumultuous affair. It is almost devoid of anything spectacular save for maybe the music that appeals to nostalgia which comes from a place of bias.

There is exhaustive recycling and failure in Nollywood’s comedy but the twist is that instead of slapstick, they are all farcical, depicting the severe backwardness of the industry’s cinema.

However, Prophetess manages to dip it even lower. The film focuses on its comical tendencies merely focusing on the physicality and preposterousness of farce and ignoring its ability to present social commentary through humor and humorous events.

Prophetess could have been an attempt to satirize the society and its unending herd-mentality when it comes to religion, its leaders and followers. The film could have been a genuine celebration of football heroes like Rashidi Yekini and Mutiu Adepoju, who were both mentioned but never properly attended to in the movie.

It could have even been a statement on abandoned national heroes. It could have shown the absence of proper care for young football talents. It could have been any of the aforementioned, and all of the aforementioned.

There is a long list of “could haves” that makes Prophetess an empty display.

The characters in the story are very familiar, why? Not because they are simple and realistic but because despite the weak attempt to tweak them for this story, they seem oddly familiar and as such, their representation here does not surprise us, nor do they work for the world of the story.

For example, Ajoke’s speech defect was explained in the movie as a result of persistent seizures from epilepsy but it doesn’t seem like an integral layer to the plot or character, rather, it appeared as a variation of the desperate attempt and a different brand of robotic characterization peculiar to this actor. She plays the lead however unwell.

It is safe to term the acting in this movie as mediocre. Although, performances by Kehinde Bankole, who played Labake, and Uzor Arukwe who played the CEO of a betting company serve as the film’s saving grace.

Lateef Adedimeji despite having to play an already mastered character from previous movies fails to deliver and this leaves one wondering what could have been and what went wrong

Conclusively, Prophetess is not groundbreaking cinema. It may entertain you but will also leave you asking what your takeaway from the film is. It is an ambitious film but didn’t quite deliver on all of its promises.

Although the song from earlier is still stuck in my head— Fogo Bombastic!

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