It’s a superbly good film. This is not a review, per se, so I won’t dwell on the plot but will talk about a few things that impressed me — and ones that I find unforgivable.
When a film presumably parade “random” stars for the heck it, it usually signals a red flag. I say “random” because when a cast list shows names that aren’t usually associated with film (or theatre), one suspects that a producer is betting on the sensational to pull some numbers, or maybe just using cameos for effect. It was my initial feeling when the movie poster for “King of Boys” parades rappers Reminisce and Illbliss — and — after I saw it, fuji legend Kwam 1. I was like, well, it’s fashionably a good marketing idea to use known faces — from culture — to add to a film’s stature.
The film follows the blueprint of a gangster story. A lead character is introduced and the audience must decide, based on their moral compass, whether the character is deserving of condemnation or commendation. And being at the mercy of the director, the audience would struggle to reconcile empathy with indignation. Spoiler: The ending feels like a prank on an overly critical, overly cynical, moralist. (At one point, the film reminded me of “Third Word Cop,” except that the grunge and grime of that Jamaican story are replaced with some gloss and a nice colour-coding from an editor that probably knows how to use filter to enhance “dark” story). But Eniola (Sola Sobowale) isn’t Ratty. She’s a ruthless politician and kingpin of a clever network of gangsters who run things at the highest level of Naija organized crime. And since we’re talking Nigerian crime, all the components are here — politics, dollars, the diabolical, sleaze, family business, and NCCC (Of course, you know where that came from).
The main lure of the movie is its authentic handling of its twists and turns. (But I promise not to dwell on the plot).
See this woman called Sola Sobowale, ehn! I don’t even know what to say. She’s a God! (Ok, let’s not offend the offendables. She’s a Gosh)! One watches her and anticipates when she’s going to launch into her signature theatrics — that no-nonsense, no-frapapa identity that makes her a delight to watch. And there’s plenty of it in this film. As the King of Boys, she carries herself with measured charm, staring enemies down to submission, throwing the Sobowalesque bluster around and making it hard for one to assume that she may indeed be different in life from the character she portrays. Some scenes are forever etched in my head — how she suddenly mellowed after yapping at a deceitful politician, how she mesmerized a customer at her fabric shop, the hilarious one-second of a mogbe-mokun-modaran moment of staring at a bouncer after her son and daughter turned against each other. And that scene, of what looked like her impending death — the dialogue with arch-rival, Makanaki (Reminisce), and the confrontation with the American. Gosh, Sobowale is a God! (Unnecessary disclosure — in my line of job, I tend to be on set with Nigerian celebrities. But me and my brand of Ogunlowo-ego rarely get celebrity-struck to take selfies with them. But now, I regret never stealing a moment to take a picture with Sola when I was taking her through a script. This is how ego ruins opportunities!)
That guy, Reminisce. The guy is ipata-raised-to-power-100. Excellent Mafioso actor.
But, people of Gosh, I cannot forgive or forget the scenes where a ram is killed and a chicken is dismembered!!!! I can’t unsee those scenes!!! Just when I was already rooting for some foreign nods, then I saw those. Where’s PETA?
And then, the representations of white garment church by the seaside, alongside traditionalist are uncharitable. Aren’t we tired of mocking these people’s ritual forms? May Gosh forgive all of you storytellers — including Wole Soyinka and his famous prophet character and the silly memes.