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"Anikulapo" Review (2022): Overhyped or a Yoruba Masterpiece?

I'm a fan of all kinds of movies, including Yoruba cinema...

Kunle Remi and Bimbo Ademoye in the movie Anikulapo

Kunle Remi and Bimbo Ademoye in the movie Anikulapo

Despite its very straightforward plotline (typical of Yoruba movies), and a surprising ensemble, mostly made up of the OGs of the Yoruba acting scene, Anikulapo is more than your typical Yoruba movie- a masterpiece!

Directed by Kunle Afolayan, Anikulapo (2022) is a folklore drama that presents the story of Saro (Kunle Remi), a young zealous man seeking for greener pastures in the great Oyo Kingdom.

Various events—including an illicit affair with the king's wife, Arolake (Bimbo Ademoye)—leads to Saro's premature death, where he encounters Akala, a mystical bird believed to give and take life.

Set in 17th century Oyo Empire

A remarkably interesting aspect of Anikulapo is its setting. The movie is set in the 17th century Oyo empire days, and interestingly, filming for the movie took place at the recently launched KAP (Kunle Afolayan Productions), a resort in a village in Oyo State.

This might seem like an inconsequential detail, but I would imagine that it must have been easier and more natural for the cast and crew to bring these characters to life, being so close to the birthplace of the story.

Actors Speak Oyo Dialect

I was really impressed with the effort put in by the actors to speak the Oyo dialect. While watching the movie, I wondered if the script was written in Oyo and thought how hard that would have been for the actors to work with.

However, Arike Dimples (who plays Saro’s second wife, Omowon) disclosed in an interview that the actors had to read three scripts! First, they had to read the script in English to understand the whole story and their character. Then they had to read the script in Yoruba to get a bit of their dialogue. Then, they had to read a script written in the Oyo dialect, through which they expressed their dialogues! Bravo guys, Bravo!

Cast of Anikulapo movie

Cast of Anikulapo movie

Beautiful Cinematography and Score

Another aspect of Anikulapo that I really loved was the cinematography. There is just something about films where Black people are captured so beautifully that does something to my soul.

I particularly loved how even though the setting was ancient, the beauty of the culture, profoundly present, didn’t make it seem so. It didn’t feel like the olden days, it felt like such a beautiful world, and I almost felt like this century missed out on not experiencing that life.

Okay, maybe "missed out" is taking it too far, but you get the point.

The music/score used throughout Anikulapo is beautiful. I loved the attention that was given to the music, how it was in such perfect harmony with the tone of the film and pleasing to the ears. I mean, I found myself vibing to the music at some points.

Yoruba Acting Legends

I must say, Kunle Afolayan could not have chosen a better cast for this movie. I said at the beginning that the plotline is very straightforward, nevertheless, the actors keep you glued to the screen, because of how well they breathe life into their characters.

Quite a number of the cast is made up of legends of the Yoruba acting scene and I really appreciate the director for bringing OGs into the bigger scene with his movie. The cast felt like a celebration of family and culture, and I can only imagine how much fun these people had on set.

All of that said, if you're looking for a movie with heart-thumping cliffhangers and twists making you go wild with excitement, Anikulapo might not be for you. But, if you're willing to watch a movie that enunciates the beauty of culture and folklore, a movie that captures an African story in a profound way, with an enjoyable storyline, then Anikulapo is well worth two hours of your time.

I score it an 8/10!

© 2022 Sherif Oshinowo