During the Christmas holidays, I had the opportunity to watch the new Shirley Frimpong Manso’s feature film-POTOMANTO in its full HD glory via Sparrow Station—and the experience was beyond my expectation.
Before I proceed with my thoughts on POTOMANTO, let me steal a bit of the space to tell you about my Sparrow Station experience.
I think I am in the best position to rate the Sparrow Station Video on Demand service. After all, I am a regular user of some of the best global VOD services such as Netflix, Lovefilm, NowTV and BlinkBox—I have once held accounts with all these platforms.
After having watched several movies on the above VOD platforms, I have become used to streaming interruptions, especially when the speed of the internet is not great. Even with my recently acquired fibre optic broadband connection, I’ve not been able to completely escape the headache of streaming interruptions.
Therefore, I was prepared to see the streaming of POTOMANTO on Sparrow Station being interrupted, at least two or three times. But shockingly, I watched the entire movie on Sparrow Station without any streaming interruption—and the quality of the movie was GREAT.
The first time I watched POTOMANTO, I did so on my laptop. And when I decided to re-watch it for the purpose of this write up, I hooked my laptop up to my TV—without losing any bit of the HD quality on the large TV. In fact, it felt like I was watching one of the usual SKY HD channels.
Now back to the movie…POTOMANTO
The movie touches on a global developing illegality, where certain underprivileged people in third world countries are lured with fictitious quick money opportunities—fetching them more than they bargain for.Mostly, with genuine intention and keen determination to change their lives for better, these poor young individuals find themselves being over-exploited by the rich.
In the movie, an ex-police officer’ s new found job of helping to expose cheating spouses threw him to the middle of one of such well layered/connected illegal enterprises- illegal organ harvesting. Soon, the ex-police officer’s desire to uphold the law turned him against the very rich man who hired him to follow the daily dealings of his fiancée, who was more than what she actually claimed to be…
To me, the storyline of the movie is relevant to our part of the world—re-echoing the adage ‘not all that glitters is gold’. Sometimes, the actual source of people’s wealth is behind the veil—when lifted, you will lose all the respect you have for them.
It is not all the time that we can relate to our African movies. The common element of exaggeration in most African movies had no place in POTOMANTO, which gave me something to reflect on, hours after watching it.
In telling the story, Shirley Frimpong Manso ignites the need for us to join the global discourse and fight against certain illegalities like organ harvesting being perpetuated by those cunning ‘affluent’ people in our societies—-which leaves its ignorant victims maimed or dead.
Quality of The Movie & Location
I think we will agree that, if you are looking for a hole in Shirley Frimpong Manso’s movies, the quality of the actual production is the wrong place to look…
As usual, the excellent locations used in the movie will succeed in pining you to the sofa—waiting to see the next beautiful or indigenous place that will be shown.
The locations used in the movie sort of create a ‘pictorial paradox’—where in one scene you see the elegance of the wealthy and in a follow up scene, you are taken deep to the struggling suburbs of the poor.
Personally, I love the fact that in telling the story, the movie highlights the colossal disparity between the living standard of the rich and the poor in Ghana.
Before I forget, let me mention that when it comes to sound and visuals, you will not be able to find a drop of dislodgment in the production…
The most notorious element of African movie actors which for many years has curtailed their progress, despite their entrenched determination to jump to the next big stage was totally missing in the movie—making the acting and dialogue more of a delight.
I mean, there was a close to reality acting by almost all the actors—contrary to the annoying script reading/recitation we find in most African movies…
There was no unnecessary display/recitation of ‘Shakespearean sentences’. The movie has well packaged dialogues in our everyday style of conversation. Where pidgin was necessary, it came in, and where Twi or` Ga was ideal, they were employed with the appropriate subtitles…
Adjetey Anang was at his best—I cannot think of any Ghanaian actor who could have plunged himself deep into character as he did. He did not fit the role; the role rather fitted him…
As usual, Yvonne Okoro and Olu Jacobs brought their experience on board, adding that sort of ‘expert free flow’ to the movie. They did not struggle with any part of their roles or deliveries. However, I felt Yvonne Okoro was not comfortable in what she wore—the uniform.
Christabel Ekeh was amazing, I think there should have been a role swap between her and Marie Humbert (I will come back to this).
Do I even have to mention how Mikki Osei Berko (Master Richard) handled his character? Certain people were born to do this, and he is one of those….
Attention to Details
I mentioned in one of my previous articles that Shirley Frimpong Manso is the Peter Jackson of Ghana—and this is because of the way she pays special attention to the tiny details, which set her productions far ahead of the others…
From costume to sound effects, the movie pays attention to all the little things that matter. You could easily established from how things were arranged, especially those that had relevance to the story, that special attention has been paid.
There were no random items being zoomed on by the camera, except when they complimented a scene or were necessary to the understanding of the next scenes.
Improvement on Product Placement
Even though I love the excellent works of Sparrow Productions, the way and manner they sometimes slap your face with their product placements can be extensively annoying.
I understand film making is expensive and they are not running a charity, but like they’ve done in this movie, they should adhere to that for their future productions.
Unlike Adams Apples in which we were bombarded with product placements with certain lines coming up as purposely ‘scripted’ for advertisements, POTOMANTO employs a soft approach to product placement.
In fact, I could not pin out any product placement in the movie. But knowing Sparrow Productions, I am sure there was a placement somewhere. If there were any, then the placements were properly done, well layered in the movie to the extent that I could not figure them out as obvious product placements—that is how it should be done.
Several ‘back in the day’ hit songs were used in the movie, which helped in deepening the Ghanaian feel.
Unlike certain African movies that have background songs telling you the head and tail of the story, the songs in POTOMANTO assisted with the suspense creation. Instead of giving away the plot, they rather got you thinking deep…
Whenever I was not dancing to the songs, I was asking myself; what did I miss? There is no way you will fall asleep watching POTOMANTO, even if you are tired. The well selected songs keep the eyes following the scenes.
Could Have Been Avoided Mistake
I am not bothered when I read blog articles where the writer mistakenly assigns SIR to a woman, after all, the writer can easily edit his piece.
But when it is a fully shot movie, then we have a problem…
I am not sure how this escaped Shirley Frimpong Manso and her team of professionals. It may be tiny but it should have been easily spotted…
In the scene where DSP Alice Ofori asked a police man she was with at a murder scene to take details of the deceased from a child who was crying by the roadside, the police officer loudly responded, YES SIR!
Yvonne Okoro was playing DSP Alice Ofori and being a woman, the right response should have been YES MA’AM or YES MADAM.
I do not want to give away the plot but I think I should question the operational reality of having an Interpol working within a jurisdiction, then proceeding to somehow kidnap a DSP of that jurisdiction and then take her to their Safe House—to strike a helping deal with her.
Come on…I don’t think it will happen that way. Kidnapping a whole DSP in her own jurisdiction?
Since Interpol works hand in hand with law enforcement officers of stationed countries, DSP Alice Ofori could have been easily brought into the plot without being kidnapped at night by Interpol.
I hope I am right about this and not that I missed something….
The Light Skinned & Dark Skinned Stereotype
What I am about to talk about is very much influenced by my personal take on the reoccurring light skinned and dark skinned stereotype in our movies.
Why was the dark skin-Christabel Ekeh the female hustler, with some lousy bar job and had to sleep around with a perceived ‘broke’ ex police officer to take care of herself and her little brother? While the light skinned woman-Marie Humbert had all the success; a good job with an International agency and some sort of morals left in her?
I wish the dark skinned (Christabel Ekeh) had a role swap with the light skinned (Marie Humbert).
Apart from the fact that there were gaps left in some scenes like how the football Coach was able to find out the Interpol Safe House and went there by himself, the movie has a well thought-of structure and follows a smooth sequence.
For the excellent Mekki Osei Berko and Adjetey Anang’s delivery, coupled with the relevance of the storyline, the well-built suspense, the high quality visuals and sound—-and the factors mentioned above, I think the movie deserves 8/10…
It is definitely another must watch movie from Shirley Frimpong Manso and her Sparrow Productions team!
Check out the trailer of POTOMANTO beolow
It has been brought to my attention that, what I called ‘could have easily been avoided mistake’ in the movie is in fact not a mistake but the convention in Ghana.
I am told that, in Ghana, female police officers are called SIRS, therefore, it is perfectly normal/right for Yvonne Okoro (DSP Alice Ofori) to have been addressed as SIR—-I mean YES SIR!