Movie: Man of God
Director: Bolanle Austen-Peters
Date of release: April 2022
Run time: 1 hour
Reviewer: Aishah Saleeman
This Netflix movie Man of God was released on Friday and directed by one of Nollywood’s brightest, Bolanle Austen-Peters. The plot revolves around a boy from a Christian home – Samuel (Akah Nnani). After years of corporal punishment due to his averred contrary belief to his father’s dogmatic religiosity, he took a different path from his father.
The movie began with Samuel’s father (Patrick Doyle) officiating his church whilst Samuel sneaked out to play with friends. Samuel was disciplined on several occasions while his mother could do nothing to stop the beatings. At the opportunity of leaving, he vowed not to return. This played a major role in Samuel’s life.
While attending the University of Lagos, he was the leader of an Afro-jazz group performing in shows replicating the lifestyle of Africa’s Afrobeat maestro, the late Fela Anikulapo Kuti. He took one of the stage names of Fela – ‘Abami’ and continued living recklessly with the assistance of his friend – Rekya (Dorcas Shola Fapson) with whom he had an open relationship. While he left his harsh religious upbringing to build his own life, his soul remained caught between his new world and the faith he left behind.
While in an open relationship with Rekya, he fell in love with a female pastor in the students’ fellowship – Joy (Atlanta Bridget Johnson). His feelings for the pastor stopped him from following Rekya to drop out of school for hustling. He left his recklessness due to his feelings for Joy and started attending fellowships. Joy graduated, leaving him in school due to some carryovers he had. A few months later, having not heard from Joy, he discovered Joy was married to Pastor Zach (Mawuli Gavor) who ministered at the graduation organised for her while in school. Teju returned to his old life with a shattered heart.
Nine years later, they were shown married and in church. Samuel became the music director who had to endure the excesses of the bishop’s wife.
He decided to make a fortune by establishing a church on the return of Rekya into his life. With the insistence and encouragement of Rekya, one night he woke and told his wife, “I just heard from God. He called me three times.” Just as Samuel was called by God in the Bible, this calling began his sojourn into the ministry. From that moment his life takes an unprecedented turn for the better before hitting rock bottom, expectedly.
With the involvement of Netflix, you expect nothing less in terms of the quality of production, especially with the array of talents at the disposal of the director.
The characters in the movie brought their ‘A game’ to this production, they did well to deliver their roles. It was thrilling to see Eucharia Anunobi on screen yet again. But characterisation could barely help when the plots are scrambled.
Probably in an attempt to deliver a hit movie, the producers ended up shooting themselves in the leg with the multilevel plots that could be individually explored in another sequel of the movie. This makes the movie feel as others before it to the error of bundling activities in faith-based movies as producers attempt to address several issues in a short time.
The scene of the sister trying to find justice for her sister that purportedly died while aborting a pregnancy for Samuel was incomplete. The excesses of General Overseers were brushed but not explicitly interpreted. And a continuity flaw in Samuel wearing the same cloth nine years after leaving the University of Lagos. A pastor of a youth fellowship frolicking openly outside the university’s library and other places is far from reality. It is also difficult to believe that Samuel got married to Teju considering the relationship between both families yet Samuel’s parents were not present.
The movie explains the sacrifices humans make to make money, and how they sell their conscience just to be termed ‘rich’. This tells with Rekya as she’s portrayed to sell drugs and do human trafficking.
Religion is not a path to salvation here nor something of a belief. It is a mere business for Samuel. Initially, he was reluctant about getting involved in the church business but after he understands how much power he could gain or how much money he could get, he gets involved in this business of religion more and more. Once in it, the church could not fetch him the desired wealth fuelling his greed hence joining Rekya in drug trafficking.
On the first week of release, the movie ranks first among movies seen in Nigeria on Netflix. The soundtracks and music rendered in the movie are top-notch as well as a beautiful collection of African fabrics which aided the characters in the movie.
Man of God is Bolanle Austen-Peters’ first Netflix Branded film.