Movie: Prophetess Running time: 142 minutes Director: Niyi Akinmolayan Year: 2021
How much are high-stakes comedy pics a thing? Films that exist primarily for laughs and hysteria, but their serious bits are very much ingrained in jeopardy. Or rather, even the comical parts still show the sense of urgency and jeopardy in the film. Prophetess all but falls into that category: a high-stakes comedy, with a plot that has a fair bit riding on it.
Directed by Niyi Akinmolayan (Elevator Baby, Arbitration), Prophetess stars Toyin Abraham as Ajoke, a prophetess (duh!!) who gains prominence due to an Instagram video and a couple of predictions gone right, then wrong. This film also stars Kehinde Bankole, Stan Nze, Uzor Arukwe, and Deyemi Okanlawon, among others.
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For many who’d have seen the trailer for Prophetess before the movie, the sense of jeopardy would have been known to an extent. Especially with the synopsis out there for the world to see. However, where this movie deserves credit is where the jeopardy lies. This isn’t about a failed prediction, or a prophesy gone wrong. This is about a high-risk prediction that’s so logically unlikely, the prospect of it going wrong is almost certain. This is about jeopardy and desperation before the fact, not after.
Toyin Abraham Prophetess
But amidst these thrills and spills, Prophetess doesn’t fail to give us its biggest selling point; humour. Again, harking back to the trailer, and synopsis, the centre of all this is to be Toyin Abraham. But the other acts in the film don’t just match up with her, you could make the case that they stood out.
There’s Uzor Arukwe as the prima donna owner of a betting company, whose histrionics and diction are as humorous as they are praise-worthy. There’s Stan Nze as Buntus, whose constant switches between language and demeanour might be a bit much, but they still light up the film. Not to mention Kehinde Bankole as Labake, who delivers some realness in acting and is probably the standout act of the film; peep the church scene where she’s undeniable out of breath, or the scene when she finds out what happens to her money.
However, the flaw with Prophetess is that much of the humour looks to be a product of the acting, and not the film. If the acting is great, the lines are far from it. Sometimes the dialogue seems overwhelmingly banal and run-of-the-mill. Prophetess possesses humour, but humour based on the actors and not the film itself is a flaw.
You can also knock Prophetess for its direction, to an extent. In terms of direction as in crew and whether it was well directed, it’s worth applause. From timely and helpful flashbacks to moments of reflection, that’s well done. In terms of direction as in how the movie went and actions taking place, there are a few questions. Sometimes, events happen that need other events preceding them, or at least, explanations. Sometimes, events happen that seem implausible.
Toyin Abraham on Prophetess and acting
To Prophetess’ credit, this is an incredibly likeable movie. Particularly if you had any sort of previous interest in the actors playing the roles. You can question a few things about it, but this is quite fun. The humour isn’t tepid or cringeworthy, and sometimes even when it’s predictable, it works. Perhaps the biggest instances are with Deyemi Okanlawon as Fogo Bombastic and the music that accompanies its entrances.
Not to mention the realness this movie has. There are moments when Ajoke is the prophetess, there are moments when she’s a just a baby sister. And neither of those moments feel phony or inauthentic. Plus, there is the symbolism of the prophetess banner late on in the film.
You could criticise Prophetess for the number of things it seemed to sacrifice for the sake of humour. There’s a point in that. Particularly at the end, when a lot of logic seemed to play second fiddle to catharsis and moments of comic brilliance. But to this film’s credit, it works, and it deserves more for portraying a football game with a crowd in such a real manner (something many football-themed movies themselves fail to do).
Prophetess is far from immune to criticism, and might get more credit than it should. But such is the delight and humour of this pic that poking holes in the film can seem like nit-picking. It’s much easier to enjoy it and buy into its sometimes-comical hysteria.
Cast: Toyin Abraham, Kehinde Bankole,Stan Nze,Uzor Arukwe, Deyemi Okanlawon,Seyi Awolowo, Lateef Adedimeji and others
Culled from sodasandpopcorn.ng