The Ghana-Naija movie industry saga. That’s always a tough one where I’m concerned. On the one hand is my allegiance to Ghana – my motherland, homeland and basically where most of my formative years were spent. On the other hand is my undeniable connection to Nigeria – my birthland and the land of my ancestors. Even though I barely remember that much about Nigeria, I do joke about when I will “finally return to my birthland.” Maybe it’s this umbilical connection, that makes me slightly biased towards Nollywood when it comes to the Ghana-Naija movie saga. Truth be told, I barely paid Ghanaian movies enough mind when I was growing up. I was more likely to watch a Nigerian movie instead, and even then, I was picky. Ramsey Noah or Genevive Nnaji had to be part of the cast. Why this bias towards Naija movies? It’s simple really; their acting was generally better.

These days, I’m more willing to watch anything Ghana-related. For one thing, the surges of homesickness I experience have quadripled over the past couple of years, leaving me scrambling for any memories of Ghana. Aside that is the news-breaking fact that the Ghanaian movie industry is gradually getting better! When I first encountered the trailers showing Sparrow Production’s The Perfect Picture, I knew my return to Ghanaian movies was imminent. Weeks after the movie premiere in Accra, I finally got a chance to watch the much anticipated movie, while visiting a friend in New York.
True to all movies, there were a series of previews on upcoming movies which, in my opinion, took too much time. There’s something about drawing out suspense for too long that ends up disintegrating the very suspense you’re trying to create. Nevertheless, the great marketing/advertisement done prior to the release of the The Perfect Picture kept me glued to my seat. With trailers on youtube, pages on facebook and a movie website, I will say I was really impressed by the level of exposure given to the movie…and this not counting the TV adverts, radio announcements, posters, and general talk which I am sure were present in Ghana prior to the premiere.
As my friend and I got comfortable on the couch, the video soundtrack for the movie , Kwabena Kwabena’s “Obi do wo a, do no bi” came up. Nice! I thought to myself. Looking good so far!
The movie proceeded after a while, and I realised another thing about the music used. As opposed to using western music, most of the music was from local musicians and artistes including Souljah’s Inn’s One Day and Asem’s Pigaro. Definitely a thumbs up for promoting local content and creativity. True to its name, the picture quality of the movie was stunning. Talk about HD! What was most exciting for me though is the shots of Ghana (Accra and Takoradi I think). I loved the fact that they had numerous shots of the street, trees, people selling stuff etc. All in all, I would say that its the attention to detail in the movie that won me over.
While the plot of the movie was generally to the point and understandable, I did feel like something was missing. It wasn’t until my co-viewer mentioned that the actors did not seem comfortable with each other that it hit me. Of course! The chemistry! Both between the actors, and between the scenes. Sure, for the lead actors, Jackie Appiah and Chris Attoh, they seemed to make the perfect couple. But for some of the others…Not too sure. I took an acting class in my sophomore year in college, and one of the things we did at the beginning of each class were excersises – for making us more comfortable with one another, trusting our acting partners, being willing to act silly. Given the high sense of propriety in Ghana, I wonder what kind of excersises are done prior to the shooting of a movie, if any. It was also quite interesting to note that most of the characters had “foreign accents” or a semblance of foreign accents. I wish there were more authentic Ghanaian accents featured because it brings another dimension to movies. As far as I’m concerned, its about time we quit playing catch up/copy cat with the Western movie industry and create our own niche. Bollywood and Nollywood both incorporate local accents and elements and that’s what make them what they are.
Two scenes which left burning questions in my mind were:
– The scene where Lydia Forson’s character “disciplines” Nana Kwame Adjei Sarpong’s character at gun point.
Question: How many women actually own a gun, or would buy a gun in order to put a wayward boyfriend or husband in his place?
– The sex scene where the lead couple finally got it on. It seems the entire movie was focused around the question of sexual chemistry or sex. A recent Myjoyonline.com article made reference to sex by saying that it restrcits the pool of actresses in the Ghanaian movie industry, and this in turn affects the quality of Ghanaian movies (as opposed to Nigerian movies).
Question 1: Is it possible to have a good/great movie without strong references to sex and/or violence?
 
Question 2: Is the ‘sex element’ restricting the number of qualified and professional actors who participate in the Ghanaian movie industry?
As I said before, The Perfect Picture is a step towards better Ghanaian movies, and it did a great job of detailing the little things concerning life in Ghana. The fact that it was directed by a woman (Shirley Frimpong-Manso) is icing on the cake ;) That said, there is still a lot of work to be done in order to ensure that whenever we hear “lights, camera aaaannnnd action!” we know we’re in for a real treat.
To read another review of The Perfect Picture, check out Oluniyi David Ajao’s site.

Author

Jemila Abdulai is the creative director, editor and founder of the award-winning website Circumspecte.com. A media and international development professional and economist by training, she combines her business, communications and project management expertise with her strong passion for Africa. Besides writing and reading, she enjoys travel, global cuisine, movies, and good design.

6 Comments

  1. Sex has little to do with TPP's success, in my view. There was no explicit scene (by my standards) in it so what's the fuss about sex? :)

  2. thanks for the review. It is one of the only two or three Ghanaian movies I have watched and the only one I have purchased with my money. The other one I clearly remember watching is 'Scorned' (don't know about the -ed) by the same director–Shirley–and movie house, Sparrow Productions. I must say that I was equally shocked by the picture quality. I had seen her on KSM's 'Thank God its Friday' show on Metro TV (in Ghana) and I decided to give it a try. I wasn't dissappointed and I was glad. It shows that with determination we shall get there. The sound quality was also good and more especially the local songs lifted my spirit and increased the movie's ratings in my mind, most especially the Amakye Dede songs. It is a nice movie and would entreat all those who have not watched it yet to give it a try.

  3. I enjoyed the movie a lot. 1. It's about the love experienced between friends, spouses, and people in relationships and there were lessons I learned from that and so was definitely not a waste of my time. 2. great soundtrack, now i too have fallen in love with Se obi dO woa dO ni bi

    I highly recommended it …kids ought not to see the last scene though. It was 'too much' :)

  4. Irene Appiah-Amponsah Reply

    I saw Life & Living It, which I believe was Shirley's first movie and I liked it. Scorned was even better so I was eagerly waiting to see The Perfect Picture. Shirley's movies just keep getting better in time!! I really enjoyed it and I honestly didn't want to get out of my seat when it ended. I just sat there smiling and smiling. Lol.

    Yes, it is possible to have a great movie without strong reference to sex. But I do believe movie producers have come to realise that sex sells. Consequently, most great movies being produced have strong sex scenes.

    The Perfect Picture is great. The storyline is wonderful. Plus there are many lessons to learn from it.

  5. i really enjoyed the perfect picture.. i dont see much if anything, wrong with it. i am not a critic maybe thats why, but am a consumer and i know what i want, the sex scenes were quite tasteful and relevant, and the ultimate consummation was necesary and it was a s passionate and strong as it shud be, cos it showed months of anxiety waiting to be able to do this one ultimate acte that cements any relationship… the thing that was a little off, was lydia forson and her numerous escapades, especially holding a guy at gun-point, i dont know about ghana, but i dont think its very african, but hey! who r we to judge, its not african to kiss publicly but some of us do it!

  6. I don't know about all of you but tbh the sex scenes didn't bother me one bit. I think it was there to make the movie complete. Maybe lydia forson's gun antics was a bit off but I thought it was funny and I really enjoyed that scene. Overall I'd pay over and over again to watch that movie. Best african movie I've watched in my case

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