From the directors to the actors, the producers and the singers, “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” is a triumph for all parties involved.
Knocking on Heaven’s Door tells the story of a talented female gospel star – played ever so gracefully by the surprising Adesua Etomi – who leads a contradictory life. On the outside she appears like the perfect christian with a perfect life and a perfect husband to match her perfect voice, but at home she is a battered wife who has been living in the shadow’s of a physically and emotionally abusive husband – played by the budding Blossom Chuks – for the past 5 years.
The first appeal of KOHD is the presentation. From the get go the audience is won over by the angel-like voice of Debby and the story-teller merges this perfect image in church with pictures of her life at home. You are hit with the contradiction at first but not in the way that most other Nollywood stories would hit you. The movie this reason is a gem is because nothing is ever ‘told’, the storyteller indulges entirely in the principle of “show! Don’t tell”.
The movie is a musical and finds a way to integrate songs into most situations in the story. Are you panicking already? Because I was by the idea. If you’ve seen any nollywood musical you know that for the most part they are usually presented as long stretched out ostentatiously irrelevant asides (most times usually sang in Igbo by a weeping Mercy Johnson – but I digress) in which the voice singing and the actor are so mismatched it’s like the audio came in 30 minutes after the lips moved. KOHD is not entirely without those flaws, the lip syncing does still lag in some scenes – especially the jail scene – but even at that, this is probably one of the better lip syncing jobs in a nollywood musical I’ve seen till date.
The problem with musicals for most movies is that it tends to be an easy way out. The music usually builds and brings in a lot of emotions such that the moviemakers feel as though they do not need to work as hard in creating any emotion as the music will do it for them. Therefore, every other scene becomes so filled with music that it becomes less of a movie with music in it than a music video with some actors in it. However, this movie gracefully slid through all those pot-holes. One can watch KOHD as a movie entirely without the music and still get the same impression.
This lasting impression of the movie was brought about by an incredible cast and crew team, but mostly of incredible actors. This movie brings in a star trio of Blossom Chuks, Adesua Etomi and Majid Michel. The term ‘star’ in the latter statement was by no means an inference of their celebrity status but an adjective to describe their performances.
Blossom Chuks is one actor that is relatively new to the film scene and thus far has done some relatively ‘easy’ films that judging his acting abilities has been more or less impossible. However, all that has changed after this movie. After this movie, if I meet Blossom on the streets somewhere he is going to need to cross the street and walk on the other side to safeguard his life and that is the sign of a good performance. A good performance makes you forget that this is our darling Blossom from Flower Girl whom we all just adore, but instead he becomes the character to the extent that those two characters become mutually exclusive in the viewer’s mind. Blossom became Moses in this movie in a manner that is nearly haunting.
Adesua Etomi was simply fabulous as the abused wife. You see her struggles between her love and her life and her God in her mannerisms when she is speaking and not and when she is lip-syncing and not. Her golden moment, however though, was the monologue scene before the big fight. Of course I was a bit let down by the fight scene, as I being the African that I am, was hoping to see some intense weeping and gnashing of teeth, but I guess all’s well that ends well.
In this movie, Majid Michel reminds us of the reason why is he considered one of the industry’s leading actors – if not the single leading actor. He is exuberant and full of life when he needs to be and tamed and heartfelt when it is required.
One cannot but mention the true star of this movie, however, which was the director – Desmond Elliot (asides from the behind the scenes singers whose voices were simply glorious by the way). To say that Desmond has grown as a director is an understatement. After this movie, it’s fair to say that his skill level has escalated. One cannot even compare the director that brought us “In the Cupboard” with this degree of skill. There was no unnecessary flamboyancy, no desire to impress, but a simple need to present the information necessary in the best possible manner which he pulled off effortlessly.
The movie brings up an amazing social issue but it is not the first to bring this up. Fact is, there will not be a point after which we can say “that’s enough of the abusive husband movies, we get it!” but this movie does not rely on that. It tells a potentially old story but not in new clothes. Instead it gives the story plastic surgery and infuses it with new character before presenting it as a new person. My only potential critique of the story is that it does not suggest any sort of resolution to the dilemma of the battered wife who argues that she can’t leave her husband unless there is infidelity or death. Then again it’s not a movie’s place to proffer solutions as it’s simply an artform.
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