Prophetess (2021) should have focused on football

Prophetess is a 2021 comedy-drama written and directed by Niyi Akinmolayan. It stars Toyin Abraham, with Kehinde Bankole, Kunle Remi, Lateef Adedimeji, Ronke Ojo, Tina Mba, Deyemi Okanlawan, Stan Nze and others.

The plot follows Ajoke (Toyin Abraham), a fake local prophetess who makes two prophecies that end up being broadcast on social media. The first prophecy, about who will win Big Brother Naija, comes true. The second prophecy is that Wonder Boys will win a match, and people rush to bet on them, despite the team being the biggest losers in Ibadan. The betting company handling the match is getting ready to laugh all the way to the bank. Surely, Wonder Boys cannot win.

A missed opportunity

Prophetess has problems with its storyline. The story of the estranged sisters Ajoke and Labake isn’t satisfying and only takes up screen time. So let’s fix the movie.

Let’s make Ajoke a former footballer who suffers a career-ending injury. She becomes a ‘prophetess’ and makes the prediction that Wonder Boys (or Wonder Girls) will win. And when she’s found to be a fake prophetess, some dangerous people who bet on Wonder Boys tell her to make sure the team wins, or they’ll have her head. She has to coach the Wonder Boys and wrestle with her own feelings of failure (and think about her unethical fake prophecy business). Now the prophetess can be more involved in the juicy part of the movie, instead of being pushed to the sidelines like Ajoke actually is. Really, all she does for the football team is share water and pray.

If we start talking about how the characters could have been put to better use, this review may never end. They missed the chance to make this about the football players. The betting company is a great antagonist, so their subplot should be improved upon. Apart from the story and characters, the writing could really be better. Prophetess doesn’t take itself seriously, even when it should. It may work as a silly comedy, but not without some top-notch writing…

Cast and production

The acting could be better. Kehinde Bankole came to do business, while everyone else is acting like they were in an Instagram skit. As usual, everyone sounds and even acts better when they’re speaking native languages or Pidgin, so why insist on speaking too much English? Also, it’s hard to understand what Stan Nze is doing, though he has his moments, as do Uzor Arukwe and Deyemi Okanlawon.

They did really well with the football match. It is easily the most exciting part. If they had completely dedicated themselves to making this a football film about a bedraggled team making a play for glory, who knows how Prophetess may have turned out?

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