‘Tis the season to be merry and celebrate so in line with that I decided on Christmas Day to go see both of the biggest films this season and that in my estimation is ‘Lion Heart’ & Chief Daddy’. This review is for the much talked about ‘Lion Heart’ which was produced, directed and acted by Genevieve Nnaji.
Now there was already a buzz going on about ‘Lion Heart’ being that it was produced, directed and acted by Genevieve, then it was snapped up by Netflix before it was even premiered at TIFF (not a common occurrence especially for an African film) then ofcourse the brouhaha that was raised due to it almost being boycotted by Independent marketers So a lot was riding on this movie. I had to see whether it was worth the drama. My review goes thus: First of all the crowd to see this film on Christmas Day at Silver Bird Cinemas Ikeja was crazy! The line stretched almost out of the theatre! After all the hustling and jostling, I was able to make my way into the darkened hall and settle down to watch the film. Here is my brief run through without any spoilers.
Lion Heart is the story of Adaeze, (played by Nnaji) a hard working, competent executive in her father’s Transport business who is unexpectedly handed the reins and the responsibility of steering the company back on it feet when her father (well played by the legendary Pete Edochie) suffers a heart attack. The film cleverly takes an almost humourous but still seering look at how sexism and patriarchy tend to affect the Nigerian woman in the work place. Not fully believing she has what it takes to handle the giant transport business, the father elicits the ‘help’ of his younger brother Godswill (the perenially funny Nkem Owoh) to ‘assist’ her. Nkem does not disappoint, but adds his brand of dry humour, proverbs and sarcasm to the equation, with many of his quibs, I’m sure being were adlibbed.
This casting is ably supported by the beautiful and talented Onyeka Onwenu who plays Adaeze’s knowing and sometimes disapproving mother and seasoned and ominous Kanayo O. Kanayo as antagonist ‘Igwe Pascal’. I must add that I was glad to see these Nollywood stalwarts all together in a cinema film; the fact that they had not been left behind as relics of the past but were included in Nollywood’s New Cinema was not lost on me. Kudos to Genevieve for doing this.
Present also in the line up and putting up great performances were Kalu Ikeagwu, Jemima Osunde and musicians Peter Okoye and Phyno who put in their best. Something else I found interesting and refreshing in the film was the inclusion of actors from up North; Kannywood actors Yakubu Mohammed and Sanni Mua’azu. Not being familiar with their acting, they added a curiosity and freshness (and no doubt a business angle) to the equation. If she aimed to capture the North which I hear has a thriving market with this, I believe she succeeded.
The film was beautifully shot by seasoned DOP Yinka Edwards (The Figurine, October 1st etc) with wide sweeping shots of Enugu and Kano. It was refreshing to see shots of other cities apart from Lagos and Abuja. In this case it was Enugu and Kano who were as much characters in the film as well.
‘Lion Heart’ is a warm, fuzzy, feel-good family drama that gives the viewer that nostalgic feeling of Nollywood of old. It celebrates family, courage in the midst of fire and gives you that fly-in-the-wall peek at life in a typical, Igbo Middle class family through the lens of a woman. I enjoyed it thoroughly and I’m sure you will too. Go see it while it’s still showing.