This short film certainly would not make heads roll like I had imagined when I saw the trailer, but it is still a welcoming attempt to show the ‘average’ heterosexual individual how he or she may contribute to the hindrance of LGBTIQ persons from being who they really are. It also admonishes that you can be spiritual if you want to.
Written by Habeeb Lawal and produced by The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERs) in partnership with Asurf Films Limited, Hell Or High Water tells the story of a young pastor, Gbolahan, who is loved by the people around him due to his good works and dedication to the church. Things change for him when he has to confront a hidden truth about himself—a truth that could make or break him psychologically. Whatever decision he makes, he is still going to crash and burn, for life as he once knew it would never be the same again.
The movie stars Enyinna Nwigwe as the lead actor, AMVCA winners Daniel K. Daniel (DKD) and Tunbosun Aiyedehin, alongside Ashionye Raccah, Adedayo Davies and Chika Okeke.
The lead actors in this short movie all gave amazing performances, most especially Enyinna Nwigwe who plays the pastor. He gave a performance that was genuinely believable. DKD held his own but he wasn’t really at his best. His on-screen ex-wife played by newbie, Chika Okeke was a breath of fresh air; her screen time was limited but in that short time, she manages to leave a phenomenal impression. The duo who played Enyinna’s parents, especially the mother, were both really good and funny; Tunbosun Aiyedun portrayed the character of the disapproving mother who still loves her son unconditionally very well. Ashionye Raccah played the role of the pastor’s wife, and her devastation when she discovered her husband’s sexuality was a performance that dared to pull at the heart strings.
Initially, I felt as though there was no chemistry between the two male leads who were purportedly in a relationship once upon a time, but then came the bedroom scene, and that was enough to change my mind. The deliverance flashbacks should have been properly explored; a heterosexual person watching this might find it a bit confusing. Also at some point in the movie, Gbolahan had to hide inside his lover’s closet, which made for comic relief, except for the fact that the closet was empty enough to fit him in was unrealistic. The monologue at the beginning did not quite hit the aim of a powerfully emotional starter; the actor was an obvious amateur who needs to brush up his acting. He just did not have that compelling or wow factor, the kind you feel when you listen to a heartfelt monologue. The film score at beginning was distracting; thankfully it became even as the movie progressed.
If you have seen or when you eventually see this short film, there is a strong probability that you would have wanted the moviemaker to go a certain direction that he didn’t (a lot of people at the screening did). That doesn’t necessarily make the movie terrible. It just means that the Nigerian LGBT has a long road ahead in trying to make its struggles heard through Nollywood or other similar platform.
Hell Or High Water also manages to touch on issues that affect the LGBT community, and indeed the general public, on a daily basis, however brief the highlights may have been – issues such as love, marriage, co-parenting, religion, family drama, deliverance/exorcism, chemistry with the opposite sex, internet scandals, depression and the saddening fact that homophobes would forget every single good deed an LGBT person has ever done once they know who he or she truly is.
Rating: 6/10 – The story wasn’t exactly mind-blowing but it was relatable. The performances given by Enyinna Nwigwe, Tubosun Aiyedun and Chika Okeke were the standouts. The cinematography was equally good.
TIERs has done a decent and commendable job, and hopefully there will be more to come. On a final note, the actors were all open-minded enough to want to do a movie like this, and for that, they have my respect. With the kind of country we find ourselves in, they all took a risk with their careers. And that is commendable.
Written by Eli Gold