Nol­ly­wood goes to Net­flix with ‘Lion­heart’

The East African - - WHAT'S ON -

The no­tion that stream­ing ser­vices af­ford wide au­di­ences a chance to sam­ple over­looked pock­ets of world cinema gains some sup­port with the re­lease of a Nige­rian fea­ture now on Net­flix. For many Amer­i­can view­ers, the film will be an in­tro­duc­tion to Genevieve Nnaji — one of the big­gest stars of the Nige­rian movie in­dus­try, or Nol­ly­wood, who has more than 100 cred­its.

In which is also her di­rec­to­rial de­but, Nnaji plays Adaeze, lo­gis­tics direc­tor of a fam­ily trans­porta­tion busi­ness that is work­ing to win a crit­i­cal state con­tract. Her fa­ther, Chief Ernest Obi­agu (Pete Edochie), pub­licly praises Adaeze’s abil­i­ties at the pitch meet­ing — then suf­fers an ap­par­ent (but non­fa­tal) heart at­tack on the spot. That con­trivance of­fers a sense of the movie’s sto­ry­telling, which tends to­ward the earnest and the func­tional.

is only partly a movie about how a woman takes charge of a com­pany in a sex­ist so­ci­ety. While re­cu­per­at­ing, Adaeze’s fa­ther un­ex­pect­edly passes over her to ap­point Godswill (Nkem Owoh), his brother, as act­ing head, ig­nit­ing odd-cou­ple ten­sion and com­edy be­tween the man­agers. But as the clock ticks down on set­tling the com­pany’s debts, with an un­scrupu­lous com­peti­tor (Kanayo O. Kanayo) cir­cling, Godswill’s brash, trans­ac­tional style meshes well with Adaeze’s mea­sured ap­proach.

Along the way, of­fers side­long ob­ser­va­tions about the im­por­tance of pre­serv­ing a fam­ily legacy; the need for comity among Nige­ria’s classes and eth­nic groups; and the wis­dom of older gen­er­a­tions, even when change is nec­es­sary. It is glob­ally minded film­mak­ing that is also com­fort­ingly fa­mil­iar.

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