After producing the commendable film on the Ebola crises, 93 Days, Austen-Peters who, before now, has only directed stage plays – Fela and the Kalakuta Queens, Queen Moremi the musical– attempts her movie directorial debut on The Bling Lagosians.
The Bling Lagosians takes a cue from Crazy Rich Asians to explore the glistening lives of Lagos top wealthy individuals and families. It is important to note that The Bling Lagosians does not break new grounds creatively. Honestly, though, it doesn’t appear to have had that intention in the first place.
The Holloway family is at the center of The Bling Lagosians. It is the typical story of an extremely rich family with old family wealth and influence in Lagos and probably the rest of the country. The Holloway patron, Akin (Gbenga Titiloye) as a result of the political protection of his godfather becomes toothless, as government officials take over the business empire he inherited but has failed to run with the slightest level of competence. His wife Mopelola (Elvina Ibru) is in a better place to run the business but seems preoccupied with planning to outdo her fellow wealthy friends by organizing an outrageous birthday party.
Like every family on earth, the Holloways have their own share of troubles. The first daughter, Demidun (Osas Ighodaro-Ajibade) is seen to be working extra hard to save her failing marriage while saving face and smiling for optics, while the second daughter, Tokunbo (Sharon Ooja), is a budding screenwriter struggling to break into the film industry but it is hard to tell from her outward presentation how much frustration she experiences.
There are signs that Bolanle Austen-Peters has encountered the life she tries to paint in The Bling Lagosians. Production and set design aren’t bad. The acting isn’t bad either. However, the film seems to lack a sense of directional purpose. There is no fresh or creative perspective employed to portray the lives of characters.
The Holloways are the usual spoilt filthy rich family, no more no less. Their bristling bad behavior cannot be missed. Akin is terrible at running a business that his only qualification for is that he was born. And Oh, he is really good at something – womanizing. Mope is a skilled conspiratorial schemer. The parents aren’t quite impressed with the acts of their children.
The Bling Lagosians came with no surprises. The viewer takes none. Punchlines don’t quite punch and attempts at comedy are barely funny. As a director, Austen-Peters performs enough to be taken seriously, but if she must carve a niche for herself, she might have to do more than just enough.