The Man Of God held a promise it failed to keep.
The minute you see the title The Man of God, you quickly get the sense that you are about to watch a movie with a religious central theme. Nigeria is one of the most religious countries in the world and so it's no surprise to see a Nollywood flick centered around religion. However, being a Netflix original, I was definitely expecting more from a story that seems to center on the social-cultural system of Nigeria, morals, beliefs, and practices
The drama puts its protagonist in a difficult situation in terms of character execution as the story plot addresses less and less of the “systemic ills” it seeks to address, indirectly leaving the audience who seemingly wants more of the story hanging. The Man of God persuasively takes the audience to imagine life from the perspective of the lead character Samuel(Akah Nnnani) but ultimately falls short on its delivery.
The motion picture tells the story of a man who forsakes his harsh religious upbringing to live his own life but his soul remains caught between the world and the faith he left behind. Sam, the movie’s protagonist, is trapped in two triangles. On one hand, three women are vying for his love, and on the other; he wrestles with his love of God, lust for money, and harbored deep resentment toward his father. The bulk of the story is set to answer what will be the ultimate fate of Sam’s soul.
The director, Bolanle Austen-Peters intends to tell a story of prosperity Christianity in Nigeria, one which has transformed several pastors with questionable backgrounds and predatory practices into super-rich individuals but misses the mark as the plot doesn’t do justice to the outcome of the project. Austen-Peters opened the film with so much promise and you could tell the story was headed in a direction that would be truly inspiring. By showcasing the roots of Samuel's atrocities, the plot made it explicit that they stemmed from parental abuse from his father Josiah Obalolu (Jude Chukwwuma), a prophet who runs a church and trained his son to become a devoted Christian and follows in his steps by flogging his son repeatedly to properly instil his principles. This constant abuse led to resentment from the son toward the father and ultimately the religion.
In the film, the lead character, Samuel(Abami), is shown as rebellious and incapable of helping himself. He sees himself achieving so much in life with Reks (Dorcas Shola Fabson), his music partner and coursemate at the university. Reks represents everything Samuel wants for himself, and he sees himself achieving so much with her by his side. Reks' character is fearless and unapologetic about her hustle, she is also in love with Sam but then she knows that his heart is with another when he meets Joy Obah (Atlanta Bridget Johnson).
His love for her makes him want to distance himself from everything he despises. However, she ends up breaking his heart as she attempts to turn a new leaf and adopt Christianity. This leads him into a dark hole as he gets married to Teju (Osas Ighodaro), his childhood best friend who has been in love with him since they were children.
It is Sam's high points and low points that are at the center of the story, and as a result, a great deal of expectation is placed on how the story will unfold, but unfortunately, the story begins to lose its grip as it moves into the second and third arcs, resulting in a shocking disappointment for many who had high expectations for the motion picture as it had such a promising start.
A great deal of care was taken by the director to minimize the abuse of parental authority by making the film obscure and contradictory to life's actual realities. The period in which the film was set was also difficult to understand. Even though we can see the signs through the type of computers and phones, it just seems a lot more confusing and difficult to follow the story as it develops.
The Anti-climax also wasn’t giving what it ought to give and you could get the sense that the third arc was rushed and all I could see was the last scene which was a big letdown and ultimately begs the question, is it ok to sin believing that you will indeed be forgiven?
There were also some scenes where, puzzlingly, the characters could have delved in and given a more moving performance but they end up communicating nothing to the audience. It is important to note that The Man of God isn’t downright a bad film. It’s at best an average movie that had the opportunity to be great but the creators played it extremely safe with the storyline. On the other hand, the cinematography was breathtaking, the city of Lagos was captured in a creative way that gave it a unique character. It was also used as a way to showcase lushness and it effectively complemented the costumes and production design.
The Man of God could have been an outstanding watch. It had a decent plot to it and it packs a lot of potential. Characters like Reks will probably keep you glued to your screen, as she was one the better performers. The Man of God, however, lacked the character development and backstory that could have truly made it great and it definitely needed more work to depict the reality of Nigerian situations.