Anikulapo by Kunle Afolayan || Movie review
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
Anikulapo tells a story of Saro, the simple cloth-weaver in search of a greener pasture. He enters Oyo into the welcoming hands of Awarun, who shows him so much kindness and hospitality, offering him shelter and food but also a job and then turns him into her special toy. But who says no to such a “trabaye” lifestyle? Despite being warned by Akanji (Mr macaroni) about Awarun’s “man-eating” ploy, Saro turns a deaf ear, enjoys ‘the life of his head’, banging his sugar mommy while he gets special treatment among her workers. “Ikun njogede ikun re’di, ikun o mo pe oun to dun nii n pa’ni” – Saro, the proverbial monkey, do not know what gives joy sometimes leads to death.
Every world has rules guiding it; mystical, pseudo- scientific, and contemporary. How do you upturn the rules of who gets to live or die without consequences?
Meanwhile, there is Queen Arolake, a beautiful but dissatisfied and youngest wife of the king, who is on the wrong side of palace jealousy and bullying. When Saro finally gets networked to the palace to make clothes for the royals, during his first visit to the palace, he meets Arolake, and it is love at first sight, a very one-sided love at first sight. That is why the event that follows is very shocking. Arolake tails Saro and eventually rapes him. A couple of love-makings after, they both decide to elope to continue their sex adventure. Not so fast, they are exposed, caught, and Saro is sentenced to death. Enters, Akala bird to determine his fate, finds him wanting, decides to escort him to his final destination, but not before Arolake “shoosh” the almighty mystical bird with a stick. She picks up Akala’s power gourd, and there begins their change of fate
After hiding the gourd from Saro for no reason, Arolake finally hands him the gourd when the only son of their landlord dies. Saro using the gourd, wakes the boy and his fame immediately travels the village. He is soon named Anikulapo, raising dead, even those that want to just rest in peace. The couple becomes rich thanks to the ‘thank you gifts’ from the grateful villagers and king. But Saro wants more. He makes more demands, slaves, properties, and wives, replacing Arolake and relegating her to the shadow of her former shadows. When Arolake sees that her once heartthrob is irredeemable, she seizes an opportunity to pick between death and love, a decision that leaves both of them with grievous consequences.
Directorial Prowess/Production Design/Post-production
One of the leading, recallable frames of Anikulapo is when Saro lies face up in his room. Half lit. Part of him bathed in light, the other half bathed in darkness. Though short and subtle, you just get a feeling this guy is shady
Kunle is a master in telling “our own story” as he has shown in his past works; October 1st, Figurine, Citation, Swallow, and others. He is known for distancing himself and his craft from the regular Nollywood story serve-ups. He is known for exploring socio-cultural issues, mythologies, cultural heritages, and folktales with great acting, unique narrative style, sound effects, and music. Anikulapo can boast of the highest assembly of veterans as extras. Even “Ogogo” was cast in a different light, with no lengthy unnecessary lines of dialogue. Similar to what he did with Yomi Fashlanso in Citation.
The production design of Anikulapo scores extremely high, with beautiful set designs, props, and costumes that depict rich African culture and tradition in the pre-colonial era. However, the structures look new, an oversight from the art department.
Anikulapo may not have made it to the 95th Oscars nomination, but it is one of the best movies that has ever come out of Nigeria in terms of compelling cinematography, originality of story ideas, and creative storytelling techniques. As long as Kunle Afolayan who comes from a film dynasty keeps improving his art and not distracted by the necessary promotion and publicity, one day, Nigeria has the hope of being named a recipient of an Oscar. It is a question of “God when?”
Reviewed by Ireti Hope Felix,
Content Writer & Lifestyle blooger
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