Movie Title: Anikulapo
Cast: Kunle Remi, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Sola Sobowale, Bimbo Ademoye, Taiwo Hassan, Faithia Balogun, Adebayo Salami, Kareem Adepoju, Moji Olayiwola, and Aisha Lawal.
Runtime: 2 hours, 22 minutes
Date of release: 30 September 2022
Director: Kunle Afolayan
What do you get when Kunle Afolayan decides to spearhead a project that celebrates the Yoruba tradition? Simple: a romantic fantasy film called ‘Anikulapo’.
If you enjoy watching films like ‘Swallow’, ‘Citation’, or ‘The Figurine’, it’s better not to get your hopes high as ‘Anikulapo’ falls short of what makes you want to run to a cinema immediately.
Taking a trip down memory lane: when the trailer got released, there was a lot of buzz around how epic the visuals looked.
However, thirty minutes into watching the actual movie, there were no moments or scenes that deserved a tweet saying, “Anikulapo is the best Nollywood movie of 2022.”
Now, don’t get it wrong; the movie isn’t terrible.
It’s probably in the top 15 list of the best 2022 Nollywood films. While it has a great concept, moral lesson, visuals, and actors, it fails to deliver on an essential element of a movie: strong storytelling.
The Tea (plot)
We are introduced to the Old Oyo empire in the 17th century, where we see a young man called Saro (Kunle Remi) arrive in search of greener pastures.
Fortunately, a day after his arrival, he meets Awarun, a wealthy woman (Sola Sobowale) who takes an interest in him and offers her assistance.
To help him achieve his dream of owning a clothing shop, Awarun employs him as a clay moulder before contributing to his clothing-making shop. Arun’s true intentions are shown when she suggests sleeping with Saro—an offer he immediately accepts.
On the other side of the class system, we have Arolake (Bimbo Ademoye), an unhappy queen. Everyday life in the palace is torture as the other queens are jealous of her relationship with the king.
Saro’s and Arolake’s worlds come together when Saro is asked to design cloth for the royal family members.
His first visit to the palace leads to several sexual encounters with Arolake. What seems to be an everyday activity turns into a love affair, and both lovers plan to escape.
Their escape plans become futile as Saro is caught and beaten to death by the King (Taiwo Hassan). While watching him take his final breath, Arolake sees Akala, a mystical bird, revive him, dropping its resurrection power in the process.
A few months later, Arolake and Saro are living a comfortable life in another village where Saro is widely known as a resurrector (hence the name; Anikulapo). Things soon turn sharp when greed and infidelity tear the couple apart, claiming everything they love.
Creativity is not enough to describe Afolayan as his “out of the box” mindset is seen in a fantastic film idea. The title alone is intriguing, and the introduction of a whole supernatural point of view is worth applauding.
When watching the film, it’s evident that a lot of research was carried out. From the locations to the costumes, everything seemed right and teleported viewers to the 17th Century.
Some favourite scenes are the marketplaces, where we are given a glimpse of how trading worked back then, how clay pots were made, and what houses looked like.
There is also the use of language. Afolayan sticks to the Yoruba language, making the film more authentic. This not only promotes our culture globally but also provides an opportunity to snag several international awards.
Lastly, the film features veterans from the Yoruba film industry, which brings a rush of nostalgia. It was fun to watch some of the oldest Nollywood faces deliver award-winning performances.
The plot dragged a lot. There are many “filler scenes,” as I call them. Some scenes just had the actors performing actions or exchanging dialogue that contributed nothing to the plot.
An example is the scene of the new village’s king and son. Although the writers tried to show how sentimental the son is to the king, it was unnecessary. The king’s attempt to hit Saro was good enough.
Additionally, the exciting parts of the story failed to pick up quickly. The beginning of the movie got my attention, showing a bruised Saro coming back to life.
It wasn’t until over an hour into the film that we were shown what happened to Saro. While building the characters is crucial, it just felt dragged.
‘Anikulapo’ also missed the mark on little details. During the film, some scenes where the tribal patterns seemed off. Also, the CGI effect is a reminder of those low-budget Yoruba movies (which comes as a huge surprise because this film has the financial backing of Netflix).
Finally, there is a case of bad chemistry between our two star-crossed lovers. While both actors’ skills are top-notch, their on-screen chemistry is a big NO.
Their actions and dialogue weren’t compelling enough to root for their love. Maybe things would have been different if the writers had taken the time to focus more on the love story than on their sexual encounters.
6/10. ‘Anikulapo’ might fail to deliver on its promise of compelling storytelling, but it is one of those films celebrating our traditional heritage proudly and honestly.
‘Anikulapo’ is streaming on Netflix.
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