Movie Review: The Cinematic Gold of Tade Ogidan in Gold Statue
***This movie review is by Adams Adeosun. It may contain spoilers for Tade Ogidan’s Gold Statue
The narrative trajectory of Gold Statue is pretty simple. There are no branches or subplots. It proceeds with conflicts arising at every point, a naturalness in both their manner of arising and how they are resolved. But that is only a result of veteran director Tade Ogidan’s complex process.
Our introduction is the narrator and protagonist, Adewale Esho (Gabriel Afolayan), who is about to be lynched in Ilesa for attempting to steal a car. The tension is palpable in this scene because Tade manages to recreate the honest, gothic details of a mob; the ire, the cannibalism. But we are just beginning.
Nigeria has a long list of lost or stolen precious and/or sacred precolonial cultural artifacts. It is around one such artifact that the drama is woven; what was previously lost is about to become stolen but this time, from underneath a maximum security prison. A conspiracy between three continents leads our protagonist, a hitherto good son to an aristocrat couple, Richard Mofe-Damijo’s Akintade and the temperamental Sola Sobowale’s Grace, to court jail-time, with a gold statue worth a billion dollars as the motive. And Tade herds his audience to jail with Wale because what follows is an expose on prison life.
Nobody finds Nigerian prisons funny. The stories that escape their walls are equal parts of mind-numbing and heartbreaking. The director squeezes comedy out of this muck. In prison, the charismatic Wale takes on a false personality that is both compelling and comical. But the prison cast is already comprised of humans who breathe comedy. There is Woli Arole in the dungeons and Ali Baba as the head of the prison. Rycardo Agbor is the necessary buffer to the comedy.
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Gold Statue is a comedy and thriller, but it is also a social commentary, touching on everything from the apparent loopholes in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to the regular corruption in the civil service. What started as a prison break by a set of prisoners later escalates into an elaborate scheme of national trickery. Tade deploys his love of spectacle beautifully, integrating a good imitation of a prison, a tunnel that looks like a tunnel and an impressive car chase scene.
In a 2018 interview, Tade Ogidan said, “I like to do things that will represent us well anywhere we stand in the world.” If that was a manifesto, Tade delivers on his promise in Gold Statue whose script the eccentric director has had since 1991. About the film, a movie enthusiast said, “I saw the work of a properly trained scriptwriter that was following standard formulas.” And that’s all we ask of filmmakers. Show us that you know this stuff.
From Sodas’N’Popcorn, Gold Statue gets a rating of Popcorn and Soda
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