The Nigerian film, Man of God was released on Netflix last weekend. It’s a creation of Bolanle Austen Peters and features Akah Nnani, Dorcas Shola Fapson, Osas Ighodaro, and Olumide Oworu, amongst others. The film is the story of Samuel who leaves his Christian home behind due to his hatred of his Pastor father, but is still somehow caught up between his lack of faith and his Christian background.
The film begins with a pastor, Samuel’s father, leading his church congregation in prayer. Young Samuel, instead of praying, decides to go out to play with his friends. Of course his father catches him and then whips him until his back is scarred, calling him a devil child. The following scene shows us that this is a regular occurrence, and he tells his mother that one day he will leave and never return. After he utters those words to his mother, the scene that follows shows Samuel all grown up, playing the bold character of Fela for a stage play.
This was a brilliant introduction to our main character. I loved how they seamlessly married his experiences as a young boy to what he had become as an older boy who had left home and become independent at university. He made good on his promise to leave home and never return, as they tell us he had been away from home for three years and indeed never returned.
From the beginning, the father son relationship was already strained because his pastor father believed he was the devil. A strained relationship with his earthly father means a strained relationship with the God his father served, the God in heaven.
It goes without saying that the cast was absolutely brilliant and understood their various assignments, especially Akah Nnani and Dorcas Shola Fapson. I also wasn’t mad at Osas in this film as she’s really trying with her Nigerian accent. I’ve never really imagined Osas playing a pastor’s wife but she did well. Atlanta Bridget Johnson, the lady who played Joy, was a breath of fresh air on screen.
Another aspect of the film I really liked was the dialogue. I enjoyed listening to the conversations between each character. My absolute favorite scene was when Samuel had decided he was ready to start a church — “Teju I just heard from God. He called me three times…Samuel.Samuel.Samuel…he told me to get into ministry just like my father”.
I also really liked a line from DSF — “You just landed the biggest gig of all time — in the name of God plc”.
It was clear that the film was set in three different timelines — Samuel as a young boy possibly in early secondary school, him in university and him as an adult, a married man. I was super satisfied with how they didn’t exaggerate the timelines as they left subtle hints like sending letters, the BenQ computer, etc. it really took me back to the times before the smartphone.
Now, let’s talk about the story. I thought it was a really good story and very well paced. It was like a modern day relatable version of the prodigal son. But the end was rushed. One time the film was going so well another time Rekya was dead and then Samuel got arrested and reunited with his father — errrrr??? Why did the reconciliation happen? Does it mean that all the beating he received was justified? Was his leaving home useless? Was he actually the devil child his father had been calling him? Meh, I need answers!
Also from a Christian’s perspective, the film doesn’t make the church look great. In the first church, the father didn’t understand his child so he whipped him constantly and was not a great example of Christianity for his son. The second church, again the Pastor, was very abusive and of course the third church was Samuel’s where he was laundering money and just going there to be a fashion killer. Even his wife, Teju, who, whilst in university kept inviting him to fellowship, was bitter and stopped being friends with Joy because she started dating Samuel and was pretty much obsessed with him the whole time instead of hearing from God about her partner. In the end, she was the one who sent him to prison because of this bitterness. On behalf of Christians all over the world, this ain’t good PR!
I understand that this is often the reality, but there could have been a better way to tie in a good church with the reconciliation at the end because it was just off and I didn’t really understand what we were supposed to get from the movie.
6/10 for a crappy ending!