It’s been a long while I watched a really good movie that actually made me go “Wow, that was such a good ass movie.” That being said, on watching Daniel Ademinokan’s 2020 film Gone, on Netflix yesterday, I couldn’t help but keep repeating the statement. Gone follows the story of Ani (Sam Dede), a professional boxer who travelled to New York in search for better boxing opportunities. After years of being mixed up in criminal activities, he returns back to Nigeria to reunite with his family.
Initially, I groaned at the establishing shot of New York, mainly because I don’t particularly enjoy Nigerian movies set outside of Nigeria. For some reason those kind of movies feel fake and very out of place, even if it’s just a scene or two. I found it hard to concentrate on the non Nigerianess of it all, but thankfully Nigeria was in the picture not long after. Inasmuch as abroad scenes sometimes feel out of place, in the case of the movie I could understand the importance of it as the plot started to unravel.
In the film, the use of subplot by the writer and director, Daniel Ademinokan, was key in telling in a nonlinear narrative. The subplots were nuggets that were used to tie the characters and plot together. Initially it felt like there were too many stories to follow. With no backstory, everyones relevance to the story was still unknown. For example when introduced to Ngozi (Stella Damasus) and Phillip (Gbenga Titiloye), I couldn’t help but wonder what their story was, they seemed like lovers but were not married even though she had kids. I had a number of questions that I needed answered there and then. Shortly after we were introduced to Ayo-Chukwu (Gabriel Afolayan), which immediately made me question the name choice “what kind of name is Ayo-Chukwu?” I asked myself. From Ayo-Chukwu’s introduction, which was done without a name reveal, I also speculated on what his deal was. He seemed like a lead character but also a side character. I mean it’s Gabriel Afolayan we’re talking about, I knew he couldn’t just be a side character. All these brief unconnected introductions already had me asking the necessary questions that made me want to sit through the rest of the film.
After pondering on the film a while longer, I started to see Ademinokan’s ingenuity. His use of several interconnected subplots maximized characters. In a film you have the lead character(s), the supporting characters and then the flat characters. In this film, each character despite their respective character group was maximized in tying the film together, in the sense that each character was made a critical element in sealing the plot. For instance let’s look at the butterfly effect of Femi’s (Emma OMG) character from their introduction to the end of the film. Although a more flat character, in the first act of the film, if he never insulted Ayo-Chukwu’s mother we would have never known the extent of Ayo-Chukwu’s trait. If he never caused that fight between himself and Ayo-Chukwu he would have never created the unresolved animosity that was saved till the third act of the film. A similar effect is created by Zainab’s (Sophie Alakija) character, a character more flat that Femi’s. If she never came around during the basketball game in the first act, and never gave Ayo-Chukwu any attention in the second act, perhaps the third act wouldn’t have had the dramatic beginning it did with the fight between Ayo-Chuwku and Femi. So instead of creating characters that pop up in one scene and are gone in the next unexplainably, Ademinokan made sure each characters presence was necessary in the entirety of the film.
The more one ponders on it, the more one can see the brilliant use of subplot in the film Gone. I sincerely hope to find more Nigerian films that have enough depth to keep the audience more positively intrigued with the film long after they’re done watching it.
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