Lionheart is the first original Nigerian drama brought to Netflix. Genevieve Nnaji directs and stars in the film. Genevieve Nnaji is well known in the Nigerian movie industry, or Nollywood. With Lionheart to judge by, Nnaji is also a promising new director.
Lionheart is an appealing first choice for Netflix to begin sharing Nigerian films. Its themes of family and feminism create a hope-filled film with a satisfying conclusion.
Nnaji plays Adaeze. Her wealthy family owns a bus company called Lionheart. Her father, played by Pete Edochie, falls ill. Adaeze thinks she will be appointed to take her rightful place running the company in his absence. However, there are men on the board of the company who think the job should fall to them. They will to resort to dirty tricks to gain control.
Neither Adaeze nor the grasping men around her get the job. Instead her father appoints her uncle Godswill (Nkem Owoh) to supervise the company. Godswill was completely unsuited for the job, while Adaeze was a brilliant businesswoman.
The choice to put Godswill in charge was an odd one. I thought it was Adaeze’s father’s way of testing her. If she could save the company while working with Godswill, she could accomplish anything.
The first thing the two of them learned was there was a huge loan due in 30 days that had been used to purchase 200 new buses for Lionheart. For the remainder of the film, the days count down as they struggle to find the resources to pay off the loan and save the company.
I thought the film was uneven. The emotional parts felt over acted. It was billed as a comedy. I didn’t get the humor, unless Godswill was the comic relief. Some characters, especially the antagonists, were not well-defined. Nevertheless, it was a success overall. That success is due in large part to the very appealing Genevieve Nnaji as the lead character. I was rooting for her from the first minute.
I also enjoyed Adaeze’s supportive and wise mother (Onyeka Onwenu). She was a beautiful woman, full of grace. #EldersRock!
I enjoyed the Nigerian-ness of the film. The settings, the costumes, the mix of languages including Igbo and English, the food, the dancers, and the aerial views of the cities. Bringing new and diverse voices to American audiences is laudable on the part of Netflix. More Nollywood films would be welcome.
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