Banana Island Ghost is a consolidation of recent developments in the Nigerian film industry. Coming in with a real great story that takes intense care of how the narrative is unspooled and a surprisingly large detail given to the development of the characters, it is hardly surprising to see why Nigerians are endeared to the new film.
Banana Island Ghost tells the story of a ghost, Patrick (Patrick Diabuah) scared to go to heaven because he failed to secure a soulmate while on earth. He convinces God to give him three days to fall in love. He is paired with the cantankerous Ijeoma (Chigul) who will do anything to save her father’s house in Banana Island from the bank coming to reclaim it in three days. The two of them must first survive each other, then learn to work together, and eventually fall in love, to see their destinies unfold.
Banana Island Ghost is a project from Nigerian director BB Sasore that looks to build on his already impressive resume. He directed 2015’s Before 30, a short-lived television series. Special attention by the director to his process and the story, puts forward so many new arguments that the film answers carefully without the use of inconsiderate plot holes and cliches.
Taking a leaf from our fundamental beliefs as Africans, Banana Island Ghost tells a moral and philosophical story. It tells a story of the less gentrified facing gentrification and survival tactics that include acting like the gentrified.
There is also the dimension of a God that is good, but mischievous with his creations who sometimes double as his play things. The Nigerian Police isn’t spared, and the consistency of the force’s uselessness and how there is still some potential to blossom into something great.
The movie tanks in its romantic entanglements, however.
Love is organic, love is felt when watching characters play love. Ijeoma and Patrick didn’t seem to be quite in love. Maybe a deep friendship, but not love. For a movie that gets the casting right, down to a T, the friendly nature or inability of the characters to graduate from friendship to on-screen romance is a downer.
Color grading moves jump around erratically – from a movie made on film to one done with a DSLR and does not care for true blacks and shadows. The outside scenes are brilliant and vibrant. The insides, in trying to avoid shadows are somewhat dull.
Damilola Adegbite has one or two scenes that do not move the story forward and make for absolute irrelevance in this project. A bunch of scenes that seem straight off from an advertising agency’s hard drive make the cut. The product placement is aggressive and sometimes just disrupts the whole movie experience.
This project is a step in the new direction that Nollywood is taking with equal amounts of dedication and seriousness. It is indeed, an adaptation for the big screen.
Oluwatosin Adeshokan is a freelance journalist and writer reporting stories about West Africa. He was previously the Culture Editor for YNaija. He tweets at @TheOluwatosin