What’s up! I’m Marlon, and this is Ulven Reviews: movies and series from all over the world.
Today let’s talk about the 2019 Nigeria Comedy Drama Mokalik, starring Tooni Afolayan and Simi Ogunleye and directed by Kunle Afolayan.
Ponmile (played by Tooni Afolayan) is a middle-class boy having some problems at school. As a punishment, his father, Mr. Ogidan (played by Femi Adebayo), takes him to spend a day as an apprentice in a mechanic workshop.
In this workshop, the boy learns with tutors and gets infatuated with the owner of a local cantina, Simi (played by Simi Ogunleye).
Mokalik is a straightforward film about this boy figuring himself out.
There’s nothing convoluted. Ponmile learns about life, the workshop routine, and the technical aspect of work.
Since he stays at different workstations at a time, he’s able to absorb a little from each one of his mentors, and even teaches them some things as well.
The pauses for meals are also fundamental for us to know more about the characters and dynamic of the shop. In addition, during these gatherings, we can see some compelling dialogues, like the one about Africa being champions of the FIFA World Cup in 2018.
Unfortunately, in its simplicity, I felt the movie lacked some conflict. We have some minor issues to be resolved in the workshop, and even a little mystery to be solved until the end of the day, but nothing that actually affects our protagonist.
That made the pace of the film a little slow and monotone. I think having more at stake or some urgency could have benefited the plot.
From my point of view, the movie makes a commentary on labor and considering the opening song, the perspective offered by the film quite surprised me. More about the song later.
During a conversation between Ponmile and Simi, they talk about the function of work as a vocation, not something merely for money or social status.
Since Ponmile has better material conditions than most workers in the mechanic workshop, he’s not expected to like the work there. He’s expected to choose a high-paying job of intellectual complexity that requires a formal university degree.
The simple fact of him being there astonishes a woman who knew him and his family. It’s almost as if his fate was already being decided for him, at 11 years old.
The inverse position is also true. Like in the Brazilian movie M-8 (you can check the review in the Cards), a young black man from the hood is not expected to be graduating in medicine. His presence there is always looked at as out of boundaries.
However, racial relations in Nigeria are different from racial relations in Brazil. In Brazil, race, and class are intimately related, and that’s why I can make this comparison. Maybe we can talk more in-depth about it in the future.
All the characters are very well-made. Each one has a very personal identity. Regardless of the importance of the role, none of them is a generic throw-away character, and they all have something to offer.
The protagonist, Ponmile, is a charismatic, interested, and intelligent boy, challenging his father’s reasons for bringing him there.
Simi also defies expectations. Portrayed by a real-life singer, the character dreams of becoming one. She’s not only the beautiful girl who leaves the men around enamored, she’s kind-hearted and a relevant influence on Ponmile’s journey.
The performances are really on-point, and no one left anything to be desired. The highlights for me are Tooni Afolayan (Ponmile) and Simi Ogunleye again, the first one for his youth and the second because it’s her debut role.
The appearance of the movie is one of the most uninteresting things. It’s one of the few aspects that I didn’t like all that much.
The settings are really well-made, a vast place overwhelmed by cars and mechanical pieces. And although I can acknowledge how it makes sense, the visuals are still the thing I felt lacking.
So it’s time we talk about the score, as I promised before. I believe the opening song, by Kent Edunjobi, was composed for the film, it’s in Yoruba as most of the movie, but it was subtitled, and parts of the lyrics didn’t please me.
While the song was playing in the opening credits and I was reading the lyrics I was thinking: I’ll hate this movie. It’ll be pure liberal propaganda, riding on some capitalist c__k.
If my analysis of this first watch is correct, I was wrong in my judgment based on the opening song. And I’m glad, f__k liberalism.
Despite the lyrics, the feel of the movie is really coherent with the overall mood of the movie. It’s a perfect match.
Mokalik is a glad surprise. It was able to entertain while delivering a relevant universal message, and it’s full of great characters. There are a few flaws, like the lack of conflict, and because of that, I can completely understand people who value the movie less than I. I’ll give Mokalik 8 Moons!
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Thanks for watching see you in the next video.