“As each member of the Holloway family work to solve their problems, they prepare for Mopelola’s party, clearly to become the year’s biggest society event. But the buzz about the party compels the Asset Management Corporation to foreclose on ST. IVES, the family business, after the death of His godfather Baba Eko who had been protecting Akin Holloway. He must then fight a bigger battle – getting Mopelola to cancel her party and maintain a low profile to get them of the radar, while he tries to save the business”
Munched from IMDB, the above paragraph concocts the plot summary of Bolanle Austen Peter’s 2019 box office smasher: Bling Lagosians. Peter’s directorial debut follows successes with numerous theatre productions and 93 days (2016), a feature film on the Ebola outbreak in Nigeria, where she manned the Producer’s helm.
In Bling Lagosians, acclaimed screenwriter Anthony K. Joseph skillfully reflects the glamour of Lagos and its high-flying socialites. As a family drama, Bling Lagosians does well to elicit certain familial sentiments laced with competent comedic attempts, brilliant writing and whip-smart diction.
However, here are three things Bling Lagosians could have done better being classed under family drama:
Conflict: Whether internal or external, conflict is the key ingredient that drives a story. Conflict is drama. In Bling Lagosians, the writer aptly captures the disparate journeys of the key players in their respective worlds. The class rivalry between Mopelola Holloway (Elvina Ibru) and her cohorts. The dragged couple rift between Demidun Holloway (Osas Ighodaro) and her husband. The struggles of a typical Nollywood screenwriter played by Tokunbo Holloway (Sharon Ooja) and the rise to the fall of the philandering Patriach, Akin Holloway (Gbenga Titiloye).
For family dramas, the intra-family conflict offers a more substantial story element; complicated sibling relationships, complex mother/daughter relationships and equally complex father/son relationships. What the writer could have done is to create a fine balance, portray more inclusive characters, all with their unique struggles but somewhat affiliated to one another as a family unit. Pit players for and against the family’s ultimate goal. This way, the intra-family conflict is buffed. However, the writer expresses these in patches that play out in a scene or two.
Maybe, the writer of Bling Lagosians tries to sway from the clichés of family dramas. Nonetheless, artfully expressing clichés contributes to crafting a good story.
Motivation: As conflict is to story, so is motivation to conflict. A clearly defined motivation indulges characters to act and react in ways that enhance conflict.
The writer of Bling Lagosians does well to state the motivation of the Holloways, which is to preserve the family’s pedigree among the inner caucus of the Lagosian elite. This motivation sees faint clashes between the Patriach and the Matriach of the Holloway family on frivolous spending.
However, the motivation is not strong enough to drive the intra-family conflict, because it appears to have rested solely on the patriarch. What the writer could have done is splay that burden across the major characters (Holloway family members). Give each of them a near significant task to fight for or against that goal.
The 2019 Asian family drama, Farewell has a clear motivation to hide the truth of a diagnosed lung cancer from the ailing paternal grandmother. Thus, unfolding conflicts of ideas, beliefs, thought and values between Billi, the granddaughter and her parents when she finds out that her parents are seemingly dishonest to the dying matriarch.
Empathy: Familial relationships are characterized by disappointments, forgiveness, love, pride and misunderstandings. Bling Lagosians gives us a considerable slice of those. They could have been better or more, but credit is due to the writer and the actors for giving just enough to hold our interests till the end.
While some may think the film is yet another story about the rich socialites of Lagos, what it communicates is beyond flagrant showiness. Where it stands out or tries to stand out is to honestly document a family’s fight for survival. The glamour on show shouldn’t distract this simple struggle.
P.S The portrayal of the traditional IYA’LOJA in Bling Lagosians is well received, the true Lagosians are happy, or should I say, the one percent of the one percent.