I did not sit down to watch Shirley Frimpong Manso’s much talked about movie-Devil in the Detail, hoping that it will be great—because we all agree that there wasn’t even that minuscule probability that the movie was going to be short of her consistent outstanding delivery.
If anything at all, I knew it was going to be an improvement on the previous production-POTOMANTO since this has become conventional of the multiple-award winning Director. When you think she has hit the glass ceiling, she surprises you and come flying through. Therefore, my total mindset was to find those things that will make me not like the movie and to be frank, the fact that I watched the movie twice is an indication that I failed.
The reason why I sat down hoping to spot those things which will shake my conviction in the Shirley Frimpong Manso and Ken Attoh’s combined excellence is, that as a writer/critic it is easier to point out weakness than strengths—so I was looking for the easiest way out.
But I got served…
Thinking about the many over recycled romantic thriller and drama storylines, ‘Devil in the Detail’ points to the fact that, there is no justification whatsoever for the many closely related and refurnished stories African movies dwell on—as a result of writers inability to be creative with ideas.
The writers-Ken Attoh and Shirley Frimpong must have put a lot of thinking into the story, depicting a close but reverse connection between how women and men deal with relationships—especially when these relationships are extra marital.
Instead of sticking to the traditional African movie theme of splashing the marginal error of judgement on mostly the men, the writers successfully cast a stone at the man-Adjetey Anang and the woman-Nse Ikpe Etim to find out their hidden weakness.
Even though both were haunted and pushed to the corner with their affairs, there were several of those poignant moments you get swayed to feel one of the couple was being ‘diabolically’ unfair.
Don’t take sides because things are never what they seem.
Since the movie opens with what I will describe as a detailed but decent sex scene, I cannot fail to mention the different layers and venues of sex that helped in telling the story.
From the conventional bed setting to the hot office table quickies, the movie pushed its boundaries with the romance but because these scenes were perfectly done—void of any tackiness, they do not become subject of attention but simply complement the story.
If you are going to predict anything in the movie, make sure you do not put money on it else by the end of the movie, you would be bankrupt—and even in debt, I guarantee that.
There are countless and interesting twists and turns in the movie. Usually, in most African movies, twist and turns are synonymous to unnecessary drama. ‘Devil in the Detail‘ employs what I will prefer to call ‘shocking but not overly dramatic exploration of the consistent flow of a common relationship dilemma’.
Even with Adjetey Anang’s sort of contradictory personality, where he convincingly portrays how much he loves his wife and at the other edge, hitting the face of another woman—the drama was kept under control so not to distract the storyline and those things that make the movie a must watch.
Talking about distraction let me point out that the storyline was clean—free from any person who did not add substance to the movie. For the first time, I felt an African Movie has successfully told a story without the pointless exaggeration, stretch of scenes and chaos of personalities.
Now, I won’t have to explain to my non-African friends why a scene of no significant importance is excessively prolonged. So we can tell our story by not showing from up to down someone buttoning his shirt and walking for 2 miles to a restaurant safely?
Why did it take us this long to get here Shirley? LOL
I can’t forget the role reverse between Adjetey Anang and Nse Ikpe Etim—-and even Ama Ampofo had some sort of role reverse with Adjetey Anang. No condition is really permanent indeed. You may be doing the chasing today and by tomorrow, you would be the one being chased.
But what I learnt is that, in it all, paranoia and assumptions (even if you seem so certain) can kill you.
The Acting-Nse Ikpe Etim & Adjetey Anang
Immediately after I finished watching the movie, I sent Nse Ikpe Etim a text message to say; if you are ever asked to define your talent by anyone, just send the movie-Devil in the Detail to the person to watch.
And if Adjetey Anang had enough cash in his off-shore account, I would have asked him to retire. He would have left the industry on a classy note. His acting in this movie is the best I have seen of any male Ghanaian actor and if you doubt me, then you’ve not watched the movie yet.
Why does it take long for the best to surface? Nse Ikpe Etim is the most underrated ‘African’ actress and I wish the reason why this is so would be able to rival the ‘gross talent suppression’ and lack of befitting merit.
Her acting was adorable and so real—even the most uncomfortable and ‘difficult’ scene such as a ‘real in bed’ action, she ‘nailed’ it perfectly. Not only were her facial expressions in consonance with what was expected of a person in that mood, her body language flawlessly portrayed what was happening.
Forget the big and exponentially rated names. If you are ever debating or in search for a real African movie talent, drop the name Nse Ikpe and any person who sees this movie will jump to concord.
The New Faces Risk-Ama Ampofo & Mawuli Gavor
Unlike most African film-makers who do not have strong storylines and set of skills—and as such rely on known faces to sell their movies, Ken Attoh and Shirley Frimpong Manso once again took the high risk.
On one side of the coin, it seems like a risk and on the other side, I believe Shirley Frimpong Manso and Ken Attoh wanted to make the statement; We know our jobs and even with little or no experience, we can pull the best out of any actor.
Ama Ampofo was on point. Her facial expressions were convincing, defiling the notion of African make-believe. She made the circumstances portrayed seem as real as they could possibly be. At one point, I thought I was spying on someone’s real life experiences.
Mawuli Gavor was not bad either and even with his limited appearance, you cannot forget his character.
But what I did not like about his acting is the accent. Let me state that, I am not sure (and the movie did not make it clear) if he was supposed to be playing a role of someone from the West. If he was supposed to do so, then I think I can let him off….
However, if he was not, then he has to quickly drop that accent I was hearing. We have many of these accents in our industry already—-it is saturated in that quarter and people are tired of the ‘fakies’.
He played a convincing role but if he wants to stamp his foot down and cave a territory for himself like Adjetey Anang has done (and not just swim with the many fake accent champions), then he has to drop it.
Despite his excellent play of his role, he drew more attention to himself with that accent that his convincing interpretation of his role and I don’t think it is good. He is likely to pull in the female vote…
The Many Flashbacks
The movie has many flashbacks but then to tell such an interrelated story with those high level of twists and turns while making a conscious attempt not to drag scenes (and not to confuse the viewers), there was no other way around things except by using flashbacks.
If it was a book, this could have been done by using a self-commentary but since this was a movie, the many flashbacks were necessary.
Accurately, the flashbacks were distinguished from the flowing story by the use of black and white—-while the flow of the story was in full colour.
Quality of Production
From the luxurious settings to the actual quality of sound and visual, once again Ken Attoh lived up to his excellence as the Creative Director and the head of Art Direction.
Sparrow Productions has never compromised on visual and sound production—rather we see an improvement with each new production.
Ken Attoh is exceptionally great at showcasing the affluent lifestyle of the well-doing Ghanaians, giving those who have not been to Ghana a glimpse of another side of the false assumptions that poverty exist in every Ghanaians pocket.
The Suspenseful Ending/ Could There Be A Part 2?
Once again, ‘Devil in the Detail‘ alienates itself from the cluster of African movies with the way it ends, leaving viewers to continue telling the story in their minds.
How on earth can a story full of suspense solve all the suspense but at the dying minute, creates the most intense of all the trepidation?
There can definitely be a part 2. But my question is; would there be a part 2?
The suspense ending of this movie is a step ahead of ‘The Usual Suspects’ and ‘Borgman’.
If you’ve read this piece to this stage, then I am sure you are aware that even though I did set off to find pot holes in the movie, I failed.
In fact, the movie has forced me from being a fan of the exceptional works of Shirley Frimpong Manso and Ken Attoh to becoming a ‘zealot’.
Since I was on a mission to find faults, can you believe at one point I was thinking aloud that the morning sickness of one of the characters was too far-fetched. I do not want to mention the name of said character else I will kill one of the many suspense.
I wish I can point out an obvious weakness, even a subtle one will make me proud of myself but the many years of experience and dedication has paid off for Sparrow Productions…
If anyone can find such a weakness after watching the movie, that person should just help me out by pointing it out to me—in fact I am tempted to say I will give such a person 50 bucks!
I am not willing to give the movie a ‘faultless score’ but since I could not find anything worth deducting a mark, I will be callous by saying because Shirley Frimpong Manso has failed to give the other starved African film-makers some of her secret ‘concoction of excellence’, that is a minus 1.
Therefore I will rate the movie 9/10. It is not just a must watch movie but a must have…This goes straight into the collection.
If you have not already seen the movie-Devil in the Detail, Click Here to watch. As the title suggests, remember that the “small things in plans and schemes that are often overlooked can cause serious problems later on”.
***If you’ve already watched the movie, share with us what you think***