Lolade Nwanze: Hell or High Water – Time well spent


It was date night again yesterday; it’s been a while. Husband said there was a private movie screening and we were on the list.

Boy was I delighted to dress up and get out of the house?! We got to The Palms, Lekki and I was surprised they had also started charging for parking like the Ikeja City Mall.

Then we climb up to the cinema floor and the red carpet pleasantries begin – friends here, acquaintances there and about forty minutes later we were ushered into Screen 4. Drink in hand, popcorn on each seat; everyone settled in and the film began.

Now I had not (still haven’t) seen the movie trailer nor read any hype material about the movie so I was entirely clueless as to what to expect. It could as well have been a rich kid’s high school project but I couldn’t care less; I was just glad to be out of the house with the boo again.

So when this cold movie started I was indifferent. Then things began to happen and I was transfixed: a young closet-gay married Pastor (Gbolahan) rekindles love with his divorced partner whose ex-wife (Hauwa) once secretly recorded their love-making session and distributed among both parties’ immediate families, before walking out of her marriage.

I found the sex scene uncomfortable to watch and told my husband I wouldn’t have come to see the movie if I had watched the trailer. But after that ‘disgust’, something happened to me.

Hauwa bumped in on the ‘couple’ again and right after posted the six-year-old video on the internet. And everything ended for the pastor.

His wife packed, father disowned him, church excommunicated him, was black-listed for jobs and the press hunted him everywhere… I sank into my seat. For the first time ever I saw gays as humans. I couldn’t believe how suddenly everything else Gbolahan had been and done didn’t matter – all his good deeds and good will ceased to exist the second his secret was exposed.

He became a thing unfit for the gospel and undeserving of a society. I was speechless. As people in the theatre howled and laughed aloud at intervals, I couldn’t (We had a particularly noisy girl-trio in the row right in front of us). Long after the movie ended and the cast and crew came forward for introduction and Q & As, the cat still had my tongue.

Hell or High Water is not a gay advancement movie. It’s a call for us to be human first to one another. It’s a well told emotive story with brilliant acting. Enyinna Nwigwe who played Pastor Gbolahan delivered flawlessly and it felt good seeing Ashionye act again.

This new crop of award-winning movie makers/actors are definitely writing the UrbanNolly(wood) story.

HHW was directed by Oluseyi Asurf of Asurf Films for The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERS). I have seen a few gay-themed movies and read several gay-oriented materials but none has reached me ever like this one.

Op–ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija

Movie review first published on

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