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Movie Review: ‘A Country Called Ghana’ – An Absolute Cringefest of What it Could Have Been.

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Directed by Frank Fiifi Gharbin, ‘A Country Called Ghana attempts to weave a story of cultural heritage, betrayal, and the clash between local traditions and foreign greed. 

The film’s plot centres around Frank (played by Ramsey Nouah), a European who, alongside three others, plans to infiltrate a small town and steal the sacred totem ‘Kankan Nyame. As the group makes their way to the remote village, they encounter Prof (played by Kwadwo Nkansahthe only English-speaking resident of the village. They introduce themselves as missionaries looking for communities to assist and are well-received by the village and its people. 

They secretly search the community for the totemAfter several failed attempts to steal the totem themselves because of the mysterious power it possesses, they decide to come clean to Prof with their intentions. Enticed by the wealth they promise, Prof enlists the help of Adwubi (played by Janet Brefo Yankson), the chief priest’s daughter who is already smitten with Frank.

The movie opens with a tight shot of Sir Frank and his compatriots in a tricycle, accompanied by E.T. Mensah‘s classic highlife song, ‘Ghana Freedom. This song sets an intriguing and nostalgic tone, hinting that this film could be set in a distinct period rather than anywhere close to the present day. However, this initial promise is undermined by several glaring production errors and missteps. 

One of the film’s biggest issues is the lack of clarity regarding the period it is set in. The film neither explicitly states its era nor convincingly portrays one. You are just left to hazard a guess based on some costuming and prop choices, particularly for the character Frank and his cohorts. 

But the costuming choices are inconsistent failing to establish a distinct timeframe. This ambiguity extends to the props and set design, with modern items like guns, bags, and the tricycle in the opening shot creating a disjointed sense of historical setting. There is even a scene where Frank pulls out a mobile phone that could easily be from the late 2000s at most. This inconsistency detracts from the film’s believability, leaving viewers confused about when the story is supposed to take place.

The casting of notable actors like Ramsey NouahVictor Osuagwu, and Charles Awurum seems more like a marketing strategy than a narrative necessity. If anything at all they can only be commended for lending the talents to feature in this film that might not add anything to their already successful careers.

Ramsey Nouah for instance is burdened with playing the character of Sir Frank, a BritHe manages a convincing accent and mannerisms but remains an awkward fit within the film’s context. The story later reveals Franks’s true intentions for going after the totem. 

He is accompanied by Tony Hans who plays the character Mario. Hans is also not exactly a caucasian but, is identified as one by the people of the village. He too seems misplaced within the narrative. Mario however appears to be the one with some conscience but we soon discover that his reservations and reluctance are a result of having left his family back home to follow Frank on what appears to be a dangerous adventure.

Kwadwo Nkansah on the other had delivered a performance filled with humour, typical of his reputation. There are however several scenes in which he is obviously but perhaps not deliberately trying to upstage the other talents he is in a scene with. But you can’t blame him, he is paying for this all and he certainly can’t help but make this film about him. His character Prof, is the only one from the village that speaks English, and as you would expect that would be the core of the film’s humor elements. This decision results in a tonal imbalance, where the comedy feels forced rather than naturally part of the story.

Despite these flaws, the one thing that stands out in this film is the cinematography style in comparison with other ‘KUMAWOOD‘ films. The decision to use close-ups and tight-focused shots provides some visually pleasing moments, showcasing a level of technical quality in that department not often seen in Kumawood filmsThis still could have been better complemented with some camera movements instead of the typical point-and-shoot style. 

Also, the strength of the cinematography is undermined by a poor choice of colour paletteThis choice was made to feed into the film’s supposed period setting as has been mentioned by the film’s director Frank Fiifi Gharbin in some press runsBut this poor choice detracts from the overall visual experience leaving several of the scenes overexposed or oversaturated. 

Even though the storyline shows some promise and could have been very compelling if well put together, it is further weighed down by unnecessary embellishmentsThe film’s central plot could have been more effectively told without all these distractions and possibly have benefitted from a contemporary or present-day setting with the appropriate costumes and props which would have been easy to execute.

The film’s central plot, involving the theft of the totem, evolves into a series of inconsistencies and plot holes. These are exacerbated by superfluous scenes and exaggerated dramatization, which detract from the core narrative. The promise of cultural introspection and a meaningful message about African heritage is lost amid these structural weaknesses.

The film also struggles with pacing issues. The first few scenes in the film are fast-moving but it eventually gives way to a sluggish middle section burdened by unnecessary and overly dramatic scenes that make up its total 120mins runtime which could have easily been trimmed to 80 minutes

By the film’s end, themes of patriotism and cultural preservation emerge, capped with a call to action urging Africans to remember their roots and protect their heritage. However, this potentially powerful conclusion is marred by the film’s underlying and distasteful implication that Westerners are the sole agents of theft and destruction. A more balanced narrative perhaps would have been more effective and less brash

In the end, this film ‘A Country Called Ghana‘ is an ambitious project that unfortunately falters in execution. While it offers some moments of visual appeal, it unfortunately falls short in several critical areas making it a challenging watch despite its hype as a film that is likely to advance the conversation around the current state of Ghana’s struggling film industry.

It is riddled with plot holes a muddled storyline and an unclear setting. I will score this film 4.5/10. Although it was touted, it ultimately failed to rise to the level of its potential, leaving viewers with an absolute cringefest and a sense of what could have been rather than what is.

 

 

Second on my list of addictions is Movies.. the only thing I could possibly love more is my Dearest Waakye lol. Nothing else does a better job of reminding me that ANYTHING is possible with the right amount of effort. I have great eye for details and flaws in scripts. Shallow scripts bore me. I am an avid reader. Your everyday Mr Nice guy. Always the last to speak in a room full of smart people. Half Human, half Martian but full MOVIE FREAK.

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