BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
There are many things that pull one to a film. For most, it is the ensemble of the actors who grace the covers. For some, it is the producer or director or writer. For others, it is the hype, the fact that it is constantly in your face and you decide you have to know what the fuss is about. For New Money, it is all three, and in spite of the disappointing lineup of films that have graced our screens all year long, Nollywood lovers regarded this film with hope, with anticipation, and with a massive turn out at cinemas. From the applause that came at the end of the showing at my time in the cinema, it appears their expectations weren’t let down.
Toun Odumosu gets a surprise visit from a seeming ‘Aristo’ who gives her a fat tip when he visits the supermarket she works at. She turns it down, and him too, stating expressly that she isn’t that kind of girl. Besides, she has a boyfriend, the English-murdering Quam she is extremely loyal to and she doesn’t hesitate to put this fact out there.
Weeks later, she hears that this man, Ifeanyi, is dead and has left her a multi-billion naira company in his will, because he is in fact, her estranged father. The sudden revelation and change of status is heavy on Toun, and she must find a way to juggle her dreams of becoming a top fashion designer, her feeling of betrayal towards her mother, and her relationships with her friends Binta and Quam with her heavy responsibility as CEO.
New Money combines a not entirely novel but brilliant story with a competent cast to take us on a journey. It is a rollercoaster of emotions, we find ourselves rooting for Toun at every step of the way, then resenting her all of a sudden. We find ourselves in her journey, her quest for understanding of who she is and what she wants, and while we do this, we laugh at Quam and Binta’s easy humor.
Speaking of the cast, New Money enjoys some of the best acting ever seen in one Nollywood film. The big names do not stay names, they put in the work and give us reasons why they are regarded as big names in the first place. Jemima Osunde, who plays Toun Odumosu seems to have come into her own this year, as she gives an outstanding performance all round. She is supported by actors Blossom Chukwujekwu, Kate Henshaw, Dakore Akande, Folarin Falz Falana, Wofai Fada, Daniel Etim Effiong, Wale Ojo, Osas Ighodaro, Kalu Ikeagwu, Femi Branch, Adeolu Adefarasin, Bikiya Graham-Douglas, Rita Edward to mention a few, all of which bring their best acts to the table.
The music is carefully selected to accentuate the changing moods, and with a lineup of Falz and Simi songs, it is hard to go wrong. The dialogue is rich, simple but full of thought, and the transitioning from scene to scene is nearly seamless. It is particularly commendable how Toun’s character grows slowly, like it would in real life, and naturally, as most films are quick to portray sudden wealth as a complete human brain reset. Toun still speaks the same, thinks the same, is oblivious of a lot of things and shows us she is learning. Other characters, such as Joseph (Chukwujekwu) and Angela (Ighodaro) are so properly developed, they are memorable despite not having a lot of screen-time or lines. It is also worthy of note how Falz and Wofai Fada aren’t just tossed into this film as comedy acts. Their characters have real significance to the buildup of the story, they just happen to be funny while at it.
In spite of New Money’s rather flat ending and a poster that begs for some originality, this 2018 film, a collaboration of Inkblot Productions and FilmOne distribution, written by Naz Onuzo and directed by Tope Oshin is a beautiful piece of work that rekindles our hope in Nollywood dramas. It is a good idea that meets proper execution and leaves its audience thoroughly entertained. And what’s more, I have my drums and pompoms rolled out for Jemima Osunde; I see a star here.