BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
Starring a host of Nollywood top guns including the late actors, JT Tom West and Justus Esiri, The Price tells a story of Pastor Ken (Richard Mofe Damijo) who is falsely accused of attempted rape by Rita (Steph Nora Okere), a first-timer who comes for counselling. The board of directors of the church, after a series of deliberations and a lot of malicious interjections from a certain Sister Rebecca (Franca Brown), pronounce him guilty and suspend him from pastoring the church indefinitely.
While undergoing his suspension, Ken and his family are faced with stigma and penury. He continues in faith still, and after a period of six months, he is reinstated.
A subplot is the story of Flora (Bonte Silva) who is faced with opposition from her family for choosing to attend a different church and behave like ‘one of those born again people’. The pressure becomes unbearable, and on the intervention of her uncle Charlie (Ejike Asiegbu), she agrees to their terms and leaves the church. When she meets JJ (JT Tom West), she is fascinated by him and begins a relationship that leaves her pregnant. She flees home to avoid shaming her parents, and dumps her baby after delivery in front of Pastor Ken’s house with a note claiming he is the father. The new allegation tears his family apart and gets him excommunicated from the church. He meets a woman who helps him join another church and become the lead pastor. After a year, Rita returns to confess, and nemesis catches up with Flora who dies of breast cancer, but not before coming clean and making her parents promise to find Pastor Ken and apologize to him.
Casting RMD as the lead is one of the best decisions Teco Benson, the director made. He stands out – way out – and gives a flawless portrayal in the Helen Ukpabio movie from year 2000. Take him out and the movie crumbles like a house of cards. Oh, Franca Brown did good too.
Good story. The plot is ridden with holes, but it still tilts towards good, especially because it has a way of tugging at your heart strings. So, Hello holes! Why does time not seem to tally? The abandoned newborn looks like a three-year-old a year later while Ken’s children seem identical with their old selves. There’s also the part of how we are led to believe that the scandal is widely spread for Flora’s dad to have known about it. But when Ken moves to a different place in the same city, it would seem that no one even knows him, and he is easily made the lead pastor, another really cheesy development.
One would also wonder why the Christians in the movie have to always clutch a bible every time to show they’re Christians, even when they are in regular places doing regular stuff. Most of the acting gets you yawning in no time. It would seem like they just had to fix some people in to act in this movie so they won’t take offense. And Flora doesn’t look anything close to a teenage school girl, neither do her friends. To make matters worse, their hair is fixed and they have heels on with their uniforms. Tacky doesn’t even begin to describe.
And that ending just had to be dramatic, didn’t it? Man of God walks in in the middle of service and disrupts service. Minutes later, his wife and kids do the same and march straight to the altar, and all the congregation does is watch. It would seem like the church has no structure for anything at all to just take place without even the slightest reactions. There’s also a lot of ‘Whys and Hows’. Why did Rita lie, why did she even come for counselling in the first place, why did Flora seem very excited sharing the pregnancy news one minute, and then the next she is bawling like a chicken on New Year ’s Eve? I mean, why should a girl in secondary school who was fearful enough to run away from home be happy about that kind of news in the first place? And how did she survive for that long, as a pregnant, helpless girl? Good Samaritan? Oh please!
The Price is a good attempt, the holes notwithstanding. It is one of the few movies that made lasting impressions back in the day. It sends its message without ambiguity, and does this with a few star performances nearly drowned by lack-luster ones. Some of the message is misplaced, however, because as a child, you can’t just be given the license to do as you please even when you claim it’s for a good cause. Perhaps a little balance in that message would have worked better.
It is commendable that there are no overly long and irrelevant scenes that many such films are wont to have. Its pacing is regular and carries you along from the beginning, but it gets rushed at the end and keeps the taste of satisfaction inches away from the tongue. But hey, this movie is sixteen years old, just old enough to be cut some slack. So The Price gets a yawn, a nod and a tip of the hat.