Upon her return from a writing hiatus, the author, Marylinne Robinson, was asked why it took her almost two decades to publish a new novel even though the first one did so well (won a major literary prize even). Marline responded that there was already a great number of excellent books in the world, and she saw no reason to add another if she wasn’t absolutely sure it needed to be written. It takes a lot of artistic maturity to know when to take a creative breather. Not only does it help the artist recoup, it also gives the allowance to reflect on what you have already done and how you want to proceed from there. It would appear Kayode Kasum (Ponzi) needs a breather.
At a point in Quam’s Money, just after the moment that can be accepted as the climax, Toun Odumosu (Jemima Osunde), exasperated by Quam’s (Folarin Falana aka Falz) constant irritable theatrics, flares up and declares, “And that right there is the problem. You never know. You are too stupid to know.” This is in response to Quam’s consistent motto throughout the film: “I don’t know.” Perhaps this moment, and its lead, Quam, best capture the essence of the whole film; a pointless trip in confusion. Not only for the characters in the movie but also for the viewer. An inhuman patience is required to see Quam’s Money through. As we trundle from scene to scene, beat to beat, one pointless twist to another, one begins to ask why this movie was made. The answer is in tandem with the lead’s constant answer: “I don’t know”.
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Quam is a millionaire who has been swindled by a femme fatale, Ozzy (Nse Ikpe Etim) in the way no millionaire can ever be swindled. The rest of the movie follows Quam trying to retrieve his money. In-between are stutters of unnecessary twists that should surprise no adult and Falz’s insufferable accent accompanied by what cannot be possibly termed as acting. Quam retrieves his money—shockingly—at the end of the film, and promptly returns to his life as it was at the start of the movie, unchanged. What then is the point of the journey? Why has this ordeal—which is a result of his own outright stupidity—befallen him? What is the great new message that this movie has passed to the viewer? Why has this movie been made at all? The answer is as constant as Falz’s amateur acting: “I don’t know”.
The entirety of Quam’s Money feels like an elongated music video that was badly directed. The colours are bright and distracting. Colours have symbolism, especially in theatre and film, and if that’s to be gone by (see Alejandro Jodorowski’s The Holy Mountain for reference), then this film is overloaded with conflicting ones. Falz is constantly loud as lead, a good number of the actors follow this path, the colours too, all contributing to that unsettling feel that the whole film is a bad drug trip. Even the emotional scenes look like drug trips. The comedy is reliant on Falz’s broken accent and the last time that was genuinely funny to anyone has to be 2016. The chase scenes, the intrigue of Quam following his money trail, the suspense of cracking the case by Hadiza (Michelle Dede), and the plethora of petulant twists all make for a shoddy film. All of this points to the fact that Kasum, who has already directed three films (Ponzi, The Therapist and Dwindle) this year alone, all after Quam’s Money (December 2020), might need a break if he ever wants to come anywhere close to the only decent film he has, Sugar Rush. But will he take that much needed hiatus? That’s an answer Quam will confidently give: “I don’t know”.
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- Perhaps Quam’s friend, Mr. Trust Fund baby, should have offered him that oil rig early in the movie to save us the time spent sitting through the film.
- Falz is good enough as a rapper, occasionally excellent, even. But Chief Daddy and now this have proven he has no acting bone in him.
- My God. All the detectives in this film are either dumb or inefficient. Yes, they are all badly-written, generic, no-backstory characters, but at least their actions should at least show they had basic investigative trainings. The criminals weren’t even trying hard enough to conceal themselves. An arrest should have been made from the first act of the film. And the eventual wired informant trick is the oldest trick in the book. In actual criminal, suspenseful films, when the victim comes before the criminals, the first thing they check for is whether he has anything on him.
- I have reviewed so many bad Nigerian comedies that I could write one of my own. I mean, we all know there is an obvious formula to these films, right?
Quam’s Money is streaming on Netflix.