Review of 'The Perfect Picture' & the Ghanaian Movie Industry

The Ghana-Naija movie industry saga. That's always a tough one where I'm concerned. On the one hand is my allegiance to Ghana - my motherland, homeland and basically where most of my formative years were spent. On the other hand is my undeniable connection to Nigeria - my birthland and the land of my ancestors. Even though I barely remember that much about Nigeria, I do joke about when I will "finally return to my birthland." Maybe it's this umbilical connection, that makes me slightly biased towards Nollywood when it comes to the Ghana-Naija movie saga. Truth be told, I barely paid Ghanaian movies enough mind when I was growing up. I was more likely to watch a Nigerian movie instead, and even then, I was picky. Ramsey Noah or Genevive Nnaji had to be part of the cast. Why this bias towards Naija movies? It's simple really; their acting was generally better.

These days, I'm more willing to watch anything Ghana-related. For one thing, the surges of homesickness I experience have quadripled over the past couple of years, leaving me scrambling for any memories of Ghana. Aside that is the news-breaking fact that the Ghanaian movie industry is gradually getting better! When I first encountered the trailers showing Sparrow Production's The Perfect Picture, I knew my return to Ghanaian movies was imminent. Weeks after the movie premiere in Accra, I finally got a chance to watch the much anticipated movie, while visiting a friend in New York.

True to all movies, there were a series of previews on upcoming movies which, in my opinion, took too much time. There's something about drawing out suspense for too long that ends up disintegrating the very suspense you're trying to create. Nevertheless, the great marketing/advertisement done prior to the release of the The Perfect Picture kept me glued to my seat. With trailers on youtube, pages on facebook and a movie website, I will say I was really impressed by the level of exposure given to the movie...and this not counting the TV adverts, radio announcements, posters, and general talk which I am sure were present in Ghana prior to the premiere.

As my friend and I got comfortable on the couch, the video soundtrack for the movie , Kwabena Kwabena's "Obi do wo a, do no bi" came up. Nice! I thought to myself. Looking good so far!

The movie proceeded after a while, and I realised another thing about the music used. As opposed to using western music, most of the music was from local musicians and artistes including Souljah's Inn's One Day and Asem's Pigaro. Definitely a thumbs up for promoting local content and creativity. True to its name, the picture quality of the movie was stunning. Talk about HD! What was most exciting for me though is the shots of Ghana (Accra and Takoradi I think). I loved the fact that they had numerous shots of the street, trees, people selling stuff etc. All in all, I would say that its the attention to detail in the movie that won me over.

While the plot of the movie was generally to the point and understandable, I did feel like something was missing. It wasn't until my co-viewer mentioned that the actors did not seem comfortable with each other that it hit me. Of course! The chemistry! Both between the actors, and between the scenes. Sure, for the lead actors, Jackie Appiah and Chris Attoh, they seemed to make the perfect couple. But for some of the others...Not too sure. I took an acting class in my sophomore year in college, and one of the things we did at the beginning of each class were excersises - for making us more comfortable with one another, trusting our acting partners, being willing to act silly. Given the high sense of propriety in Ghana, I wonder what kind of excersises are done prior to the shooting of a movie, if any. It was also quite interesting to note that most of the characters had "foreign accents" or a semblance of foreign accents. I wish there were more authentic Ghanaian accents featured because it brings another dimension to movies. As far as I'm concerned, its about time we quit playing catch up/copy cat with the Western movie industry and create our own niche. Bollywood and Nollywood both incorporate local accents and elements and that's what make them what they are.

Two scenes which left burning questions in my mind were:

- The scene where Lydia Forson's character "disciplines" Nana Kwame Adjei Sarpong's character at gun point.
Question: How many women actually own a gun, or would buy a gun in order to put a wayward boyfriend or husband in his place?

- The sex scene where the lead couple finally got it on. It seems the entire movie was focused around the question of sexual chemistry or sex. A recent article made reference to sex by saying that it restrcits the pool of actresses in the Ghanaian movie industry, and this in turn affects the quality of Ghanaian movies (as opposed to Nigerian movies).

Question 1: Is it possible to have a good/great movie without strong references to sex and/or violence?

Question 2: Is the 'sex element' restricting the number of qualified and professional actors who participate in the Ghanaian movie industry?

As I said before, The Perfect Picture is a step towards better Ghanaian movies, and it did a great job of detailing the little things concerning life in Ghana. The fact that it was directed by a woman (Shirley Frimpong-Manso) is icing on the cake ;) That said, there is still a lot of work to be done in order to ensure that whenever we hear "lights, camera aaaannnnd action!" we know we're in for a real treat.

To read another review of The Perfect Picture, check out Oluniyi David Ajao's site.

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