Movie Review: Lionheart (Netflix)

Aunty Gen-gen has got Nigeria on Netflix! Gather round please, it’s our moment! I only heard about this movie today and my Netflix subscription expires on the 10th so I decided to see it even though I have a long trip back to school this morning.

For some reason, there isn’t enough publicity around this movie and I didn’t even know it had a trailer. Well, I found one for you. If you haven’t seen it, you know what to do.

Genevieve Nnaji is Adaeze Obiagu, Director Operations and Logistics at Lionheart Transport Services, a family-owned business suddenly facing bankruptcy. With the Chairman’s absence, she is forced to team up with her Uncle to save the business or lose it all to her father’s rival.

Adaeze Obiagu and Godswill Obiagu

Plot
The authenticity of this story is undeniable given that public transportation is least glamorous and yet an integral part of Nigerian living. The suspense around the character and context is palpable, the twists and turns completely unexpected and even though I started this movie half-eyed at about 11:30pm, I was wide-awake and laughing by midnight.

I loved that the dialogue was English and Igbo spoken simultaneously, true to our culture in the East. I appreciated the simplicity of the costumes and I want Genevieve’s work wardrobe (and body to go). This scenes had none of the excessive opulence we are tired of seeing in Nollywood productions; mansions and luxury cars few of us actually live in or ride. For once, the scene is real and the characters are average Nigerians in Nigeria.

Obiagu family lunch

Waiting for bail in jail

A number of reviews online expressed negative opinions about the External Auditor Scene. I get that it was dramatic but I believe the intention was to communicate the severity of the situation without being too serious. Plus I almost fell out the bed laughing when she said “Teeth whitening”.

External Auditor with white teeth

Directing Filming and Editing
This is the best quality Nigerian movie I have ever seen. Yes, it beats the Wedding Party in my opinion. Definitely shot with high-quality drones, the ariel view of Enugu and Kano were stunning. Who knew Enugu looked so good from above?

The camera guy used the 2/3rd rule a lot and I loved the close-up shots in the actors’ faces that communicated their thoughts and feelings. This movie used a lot of professional and technical expertise and you can tell.

Enugu

Kano

Nollywood movies love to drag scenes so much you can just tell the director is wasting your time and reaching for a “Part 2”. But this was different and better. The editing was impeccable, crisply cutting scenes at the right time and B-rolling into the next.

The Chairman: Chief Obiagu

The Cast
Pete Edochie as Chairman was comfortable playing soft-spoken father and wise leader. I mean, I can think of only one other actor who might have tried but he is Yoruba and I have forgotten his name.

Nkem Owoh (as Uncle Godswill) played the most serious role I’ve ever seen him in. He tried to be serious while maintaining his light-hearted character. The suspense built around his entrance blew me away and he didn’t even have to speak to get me smiling.

Onyeka Onwenu was a pleasure to watch, playing mother, wife and sister-in-law. I have loved her since are music days.

Peter Okoye shirtless is some eye-candy. His role was short, hilarious and sweet. The way Adaeze fled the scene before things got complicated was so relatable, I think most Nigerian women will enjoy it.

Moral Messages
This movie is rich with moral messages. nAdaeze as a woman in a senior role in a Nigerian business gave voice to the challenges working women face particularly internal rivalry and sexual harassment by the opposite sex. Uncle Godswill also stepped up to show our brothers how important it is to support, defend and protect Nigerian women in the workplace and that brought tears to my eyes.

It promoted paternal love, gender-equality and the appreciation of the girl-child in Nigerian homes while frowning at illegal business practices and encouraging hard work. It encouraged dignity in labour with Chibuzor Nelson Azubuike (a.k.a Phyno) defending his career choice as a musician before his parents and referencing Chief Stephen Osita Osadebe, a prominent Igbo highlife musician of the 60s in his defence.

Finally, it showcased Nigeria’s strength in diversity with the cross-country merger and Adeaze’s budding romance at the end going against the Igbo and Hausa cultural stereotype.

I appreciate that this story isn’t a Nigerian version of another American movie. I’ll admit that since Taboo, I haven’t been a Nollywood fan. It scared me and a lot of them since then have been downright cringe-worthy, promoting unrealistic flamboyant lifestyles, face-palm sex scenes, native doctors, rituals for money (Juju or Jazz), prostitutes, gangs and all that negativity. But we are leaving that in 2018!

Budding romance

Related: Birdbox (Netflix)

It was minor but still a bother but Netflix subtitles kept saying “Hausa” even though it was Igbo being spoken. Thankfully, Geneviève has announced on her Instagram that the error has been fixed.

Who should see this movie?
Everyone, It’s a clean classic Nigerian drama that people of all ages can enjoy. You won’t have to cover your kid’s eyes or ears. You can relax and enjoy a good laugh.

It’s a great movie but I hope to God there’s no Part 2. Whatever you do Aunty Gen, don’t make a sequel. All the loose ends were tied up and it is perfect and wholesome as it is.

Genevieve has set the bar at a new high, promoting an upright progressive perspective of what it means to be Nigerian. It’s our first movie on Netflix and a brilliant presentation of Nigeria to the world and I’m bursting with pride!

WATCH THIS MOVIE


Have you seen Lionheart on Netflix? Let me know what you think in the comments!
As always, thank you for reading!

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15 replies

  1. I saw the trailer, and with this write up, I am sure it is a great movie.
    My final verdict will be out when I see it all through.

    That’s for the review. Like I have already witnessed the movie.

    Liked by 1 person

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