Movie title: Lionheart
Screen time: 94 mins
Director: Genevieve Nnaji
Starring: Genevieve Nnaji, Nkem Owoh, Pete Edochie, Onyeka Onwenu
Year of Release: 2018
Languages: English Language, Igbo language
Genevieve Nnaji’s directorial debut, Lionheart, is destined to be remembered as the film which changed the face of Nollywood.
Beyond anything else, it has also made history as the first Nigerian movie to be acquired by NETFLIX. And that, in itself, is a big deal. But, this is not what makes this movie special.
While Nollywood films mostly rely on popular faces to make their films successful, Ms Nnaji’s die-hard fans have rated this film a hit.
‘Lionheart’, whose cinema screening in Nigeria was initially halted due to alleged industry controversies, rode heavily on Genevieve’s star power. But then, it has also got a tight script to match.
However, contrary to what the average Nollywood movie buff might think, Genevieve is not the star of Lionheart, which arrived Friday, on Netflix.
But, she is the heart of the movie, among other roles, in this story about a daughter who must find a way to work alongside her uncle to save her father’s ailing Bus Company.
A great story, packed full with lots of values, this movie couldn’t have come at a much better time in Nigeria’s history than now.
The international audience gets to the see the other side of Nigeria which is often not portrayed in Nollywood. It is not your average Nollywood movie plot.
Genevieve also did an amazing job in assembling the big names.
What it’s about
The opening minutes boldly announce Genevieve’s influence in the film. The movie begins with Genevieve (Adaeze) trying to persuade a mob to vacate her father’s transport company.
As we all know, running a company can be challenging, especially if you are a female in a male-dominated industry. And so, looking to prove her worth, Adaeze steps up to the challenge when her father, Chief Ernest Obiagu is forced to take a step back due to health issues.
Her father appoints his crude and eccentric brother, Godswill, instead, to run the company with her. She works with her crude and eccentric uncle to save the family business in dire financial straits, resulting in crazy and often hilarious results.
Complications arise when they discover that the family business is in dire financial straits and both Adaeze and Godswill try to save the company in their own way to crazy and often hilarious results.
The movie captures the challenges of a female in a male-dominated industry. It is also a far departure from new Nollywood movies that tend to situate their plot in Lagos. Lionheart was shot in Enugu and Kano States. The cinematography and locations are brilliant.
For once, we see a contemporary Igbo film that celebrates a female child rather than the male. It is also an authentic indigenous film that is true to the Nigerian roots – no ‘phoney’ accents, grandiose lifestyle and weaves flying all over the place.
Lionheart is heavy on family values which is evident in the family dinner scene where Nkem Owoh puts up a brilliant performance.
The portrayal of Igbo and Hausa culture in the contemporary Nigerian setting also made the movie a delight to watch. Not only does the plot preach unity in diversity, it was also devoid of any stock characters.
It was interesting to see Nkem Owoh play the ‘good guy’ for once. The father-daughter moment wherein Genevieve’s father said to her, “If you stop swinging, I’m gone,” was rather emotional yet beautiful.
For the most part, the dialogue is in Igbo, with English subtitles, yet it appears good enough to captivate the non-Igbo-speaking audience.
Peter Okoye of the P-Square fame, made his acting debut in the movie and could hardly put up a memorable performance.
Ditto for Igbo rap music sensation, Phyno, who played Genevieve’s brother but failed to pull his weight in the film.
Chika Okpala of Zebrudaya’s fame should have been given a speaking role while Genevieve ought to have spoken more Igbo in the film. But the simplicity of the story line and rich dialogue made up for those bland moments.
Genevieve is the big name, but Nkem Owoh, Pete Edochie, and a refreshingly different story line, makes this movie one of the best things to happen to Nollywood, in recent times.