No machine guns. No high-tech equipment. But an artful robbery in Ilesha encapsulates Tade Ogidan’s comedy-drama “Gold Statue.”
Gabriel Afolayan plays the lead, Adewale Esho in a story is told through his character’s perspective while Kunle Remi stars in a supporting lead role as Chike Okereke. Chike is Adewale’s best friend and classmate.
The plot begins to unravel when Adewale and Chike attend a history class in the university. And their lecturer (Agatha Amata) tells a story about the statue of Yeye. Yeye is of Ijesha ancestry and the statue is made of pure gold. In layman’s terms, she describes its weight as equivalent to that of 6,000 tubers of yam.
As an Ijesha man, knowledge of the statue piqued Adewale’s interest. On one hand, he is doubtful that it exists. On the other, he believes that finding it would make him a rich man. He asks his grandfather about the statue. But his grandpa will not say much. To him, the statue is sacred. And so, the information he gathers is not very helpful. He decides to enlist the help of Brian (Kalu Ikeagwu), his school father. It turns out to be worthwhile as Brian is able to get coordinates to the location of statue. It is in modern day Ilesha and the “Gold Statue” is currently worth 500 million dollars. So, the trio plan a heist.
Adewale is from a middle class family. His parents are Akintade (Richard Mofe-Damijo) and Grace (Sola Sobowale) Esho. Grace always takes her son’s side. Sobowale is characteristically dramatic. She delivers her lines in Yoruba. Then repeats them in English. One cannot comprehend why as the subtitles easily take care of that. Akintade on the other hand is upright. He believes Adewale’s generation just want the easy way out. And he disapproves.
Nonetheless, Adewale would throw his family dignity out of the window. He is crafty and a man on a mission. The audience does not get to know about Chike’s family. However, he is clearly less ambitious. And risk averse.
The plan takes-off during Adewale and Chike’s National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) year. Although posted to Adamawa state, they head to Ilesha. And rather than be of service to their country, they decide to be of service to their pockets. Interestingly, a big surprise awaits them. The location which the coordinates lead to is most unpalatable. They find themselves between a rock and a hard place.
Ogidan serves as writer, producer and director of “Gold Statue”. It is a huge responsibility. But he excels. To bring his story to life, Ogidan assembles a strong cast. The cast is a mix of veteran and established actors. This crop of actors are not necessarily known to grace red carpets. But they have honed their skills over time. As a result, they deliver compelling performances. And very entertaining dialogue too.
And what a pleasure to have Nobert Young, Francis Owochei, Rykardo Agbor and Kelvin Ikeduba in this movie? Young plays Antar. He is the prison’s deputy warden. And though Antar reports to the head warden Manuel (Ali Baba), they are at cross-purposes. The cast also includes Femi Durojaiye, Segun Arinze and Tina Mba. Seeing Mba play judge is also refreshing. She is one fine actress who has been underrated.
Ogidan’s story also highlights corruption. The rich are granted privileges while under incarceration. Adewale is one of such beneficiaries. But he would discover a group of even more privileged female inmates. The group is portrayed by Yvonne Jegede, Bisola Aiyeola and Etinosa Idemudia. Compared to them, Adewale’s privileges are child’s play.
Ogidan does brilliantly with props, locations, make-up and costumes. He does a great service to our prisons and lecture theatres. They would be extremely proud. Even more so, the Nigeria Police for Owochei’s portrayal of the Force as officer Mekwunye. Yet he goofs in the scene in which Chike’s trouser goes up in flames. If you can justify how Chike walks away with his leg intact, it is unlikely that the trouser did not get burnt. In addition, the press conference at the end stalled needlessly. And it was almost undone. On the flip side, his use of the flashback is appreciable. It is not unduly prolonged.
But we acknowledge Ogidan’s work for being unpretentious. He does not try to tell a story fashioned after a Hollywood heist aimed at stealing an artwork. Neither is his story of a bank robbery. Nor does he situate it in the big city. Rather, he chooses Ilesha with houses covered by rusty zinc roofs. His treasure is a statue. Everything comes together beautifully. And it works!
“Gold Statue” is showing in theatres nationwide.
Directed, written and produced by Tade Ogidan
Cast includes; Gabriel Afolayan, Kunle Remi, RMD, Solabowale