MOKALIK MOVIE REVIEW
By Morris Abdul Newton
Dir: Kunle Afolayan
Starring: Tooni Afolayan, Simi Ogunleye, Ayo Ogunshina, Dayo Akinpelu, Femi Adebayo, Ayo Adesanya, Lateef Adedimeji, Fathia Williams, Damilola Ogunsi, Charles Okocha.
Why this feels like a documentary made from an automobile mechanic’s script, I don’t know. Kunle Afolayan directed and Tunde Babalola penned it and still, I feel justice wasn’t done. Let me explain after we peep what the short synopsis of these one looks like.
So, ‘Mokalik’ follows Ponmile (Tooni Afolayan) who is not exactly bright at school and has been charged by his parents to spend a day learning as an apprentice at a mechanic workshop in order to view life from the other side of the tracks. The resultant experience and his decision are what this movie is about.
While most of the actors on the movie did well enough, nothing exceptional, the main character, Tooni, manages to express a total lack of any sort of emotion throughout. It was like he had embodied some robotic, mechanical nature that made him pretty unreadable at obvious times of joy or sadness and so on and so forth. Even Simi who was making her debut just like him still gave a performance. Although I doubt that I just made a good comparison.
The cinematography was fine for most of the time and the pictures served up as much as was expected. Sometimes it was hard and painful following the camera movement though. The sound was just as good.
The story was simple and holding its own until it started slipping into the realm of documentary. When the actors begin to blatantly reel the different items/parts in a car and their functions to us without any dramatic play, then you begin to wonder if that is what you came to the cinema to do. This isn’t in any way how the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise tells us about cars. Mokalik, as far as I’m concerned, lost a lot of its entertainment because of that and I don’t even know who to apportion such damage blames to; writer or director. This is the kind of situation you wish they were one and the same, so you can blame just the one person.
It was somewhat weird that fifteen minutes into the movie, our subject character had not seen any ‘mechanic’ action. That is some slow storytelling. It is the main story but we find some over-concentration on other things and characters instead.
As a movie that is predominantly conveyed in the Yoruba language, I found that subtitling was somewhat off at the start. Delivering in the language could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. But then, it didn’t really matter to me as I already understood the language and it made my viewing a bit easier. For the non-Yoruba speaking folks though, it could have been a problem as it could easily distract them from the story. Not that there was much going on in that department anyway. Art is Art anyway. Language barriers and subtitling never stopped good art.
Kunle Afolayan’s dedication to culture as part and parcel of his pieces is commendable. Also commendable was the fact that ‘Mokalik’ addressed formal and informal education with merits and demerits.
Interestingly enough, I felt it when the boy (Ponmile) made a decision at the end of the movie despite all my misgivings about the film. It’s arguably the only thing I felt throughout the movie. Maybe it was the music in the background or the Air Condition in the room. I just don’t know what it was.
Generally, though, Mokalik is not a bad movie. A bit misdirected but still holds true largely for what it is supposed to be. An eye-opener to the message it tried to get across and nothing more.