While Sunday was a memorable day for Christians worldwide as they celebrated the rising of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion, it was also particularly memorable for Bolanle Austin Peters and the entire cast and crew of their most recent Netflix film, Man of God, was premiered worldwide. The film was met with a pool of mixed reviews online, with a fair percentage impressed by the entirety of the film. That being said, there’s also been a fair share of criticism – some justifiable, some not – from other viewers.
As someone actively interested and invested in the Nigerian Film Industry, I understand and empathize wholly with the makers of the film. Filmmaking in many cases goes beyond audience satisfaction and is sometimes about the personal fulfillment of the filmmakers.
However, all good work deserves constructive criticism. No project is perfect and this particular film left me with a couple of questions that have been an itch in my brain for the past 20+ hours.
Was the whole story about Samuel having daddy issues?
We’re introduced to Samuel Obalolu (Akah Nnani) as a young boy growing up in a Christian home with parents who are pastors. We get a glimpse at the kind of relationship he had with his father, one that many would call abusive. His childhood seemed to have been filled with excessive beatings justified by biblical quotes, hence his decision to leave and never return. At first, we see he’s still being taunted by his father’s words even though he’s left his father’s house, the taunting seemed to be the fuel of his internal rage. Yet, it seemed like all the supposedly random actions he took were only as a form of retaliation against his dad, because there’s no other explanation for his actions. Because of his dad’s behavior (so it seems), he hated the idea of church and plunged deeper into a ‘bad boy’ persona he had for the rest of the film, all up until he returned home at the end.
Did he want to leave Nigeria because his mom died or did I miss something?
When he decided he was leaving the country – right after his brother Daniel (Olumide Oworu) had informed him of their mother’s passing – I became confused. His decision caught me off guard, what would relocating to Canada do for him with respect to healing? I understand he was unhappy throughout most of his life and had made bad decisions that he knew would catch up to him, but it felt like using his mother’s death as a catalyst for that decision was a wrong choice for the story’s development.
The whole ‘Unilag era’ could’ve been backstory, why did it need to be an entire act?
To be fair, nothing that happened in that act of the film was particularly necessary to the story development. All of the events of his Unilag days could have been revealed in another narrative, rather than getting the audience invested for over 30 minutes. We didn’t need to sit through his relationship with Joy, Rekya, or the church fellowship members, to have been introduced to the next act of the film where he’s married and a choir minister.
What was the point of Joy’s character?
We became really invested in Joy and Samuel’s relationship in the first act of the film so I had the impression the relationship was part of the main plot. I had expected the rest of his actions to have been a reaction to their breakup and him trying his best to win her back, but as the story progressed and her character reintroduced, I had to wonder, why is she here? What was the point of having her in the story in the first place? Some may argue ‘if not for joy, he wouldn’t have wound up in Teju’s arms’ but I think there are a thousand and one ways to how he could’ve wound up in her arms without making the audience become invested in that subplot.
Performance-wise, Akah Nnani and DSF did an amazing job, did Osas have to be there?
Don’t be mistaken, Osas equally did a good job, however, one of the amazing things about the film was that BAP was giving other actors a chance in the limelight. Akah Nnani has an impressive acting reel, although many of his roles have been supporting characters. This film was especially one many looked forward to because it – to an extent- gave the spotlight to other talents in the industry. Many are tired of the industry rotating the same talents as leads in their films. It was refreshing watching Akah Nnani, Dorcas Shola Fapson and Atlanta Bridget Johnson get screentime and dailogue. Osas does a decent job in her films but she didnt need to be in this one.
In the end, the story was full circle, it was giving prodigal son, but it almost wasn’t the entire focus, was it?
It could be because so much was going on, it was difficult to really tell what the main plotline was. We know some of his decisions stemmed from his anger with his father but that anger was rarely addressed enough for us to understand if the story was supposed to be ‘full circle’. It was only in the end when we he finally went home, which we still dont know why he came to that conclusion, that we could then see the ‘prodigal son’ moment.
Wouldn’t it have been great if it focused on him being a fake pastor instead?
The moment Rekya proposed the idea of Samuel getting into the pastoring business, and him setting that up, it felt like the actual movie was starting. After that, I couldn’t help but wished the film was based on this from the get to instead. The first two acts of the film already felt a little all over the place, him finally having a goal/project began to feel like ‘Okay yeah, now we’re getting somewhere. ‘
What happened with the Josephine case??
The sprinkle of Samuel cheating with members of the church was a nice touch but it didn’t seem to follow through till the end. Yes, we were briefly carried along when Jospehine’s sister went to the police, but we were left hanging after that.
The production value was amazing, but it kind of sucks that that isn’t enough these days, doesn’t it?
It is undeniable what BAP and her team did with the production of this film. Superb is an understatement. The sound, costume design, production design, score, cinematography, framing, location, and all the goodness that goes into production was detailed and intentional. It says a lot about her regard for production value and role in setting the bar even higher for other filmmakers. That being said, it just isn’t enough. Old Nollywood gave good stories but half-baked production, while New Nollywood is giving half-baked stories but stellar production.
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