Fast growing Ghanaian film writer/producer/director Shirley Frimpong-Manso decided to include the most glamorous ghosts yet out of Africa in her much anticipated fourth production, ‘A Sting In A Tale’. And for me, this very much represented the general feel-good theme of the movie; it is one for laughs and not taking life too seriously.
From the trailer and synopsis that floated around before the premiere, it was clear that the movie would be full of twists and turns just in case the title was not suggestive enough. So how well was Shirley able to pull it off? I will get to that in a moment.
‘A Sting in a Tale’ revolves around two young couples in their quest to survive the harsh realities of life after university; unemployment, uncertainty, desperation and in the middle of it all, love. Young graduate, Kuuku (Adjetey Anang) is frustrated with unemployment and is faced with the possibility of losing his true love Frema(Lydia Forson) because Frema’s mother (Doris Sacketey)sees no good future in that relationship. With these pressures, Kuuku moves heaven and earth trying to find a good job and a means to provide the future he so desperately seeks for himself, his future wife and kids. He takes the most drastic measure by resorting to rituals and soon after that, his Frema passes away. After her death, Kuuku gets a well paying job and becomes a millionaire almost overnight.
With the new fortunes comes a new set of problems as his best friend, Nii Aryee (Majid Michel) who suffered the ill fate with him all along starts to envy Kuuku’s wealth and starts asking questions. The ghost of Frema would also not rest until the mystery surrounding her death is cleared. What unfolds is a series of unpredictable and hilarious events that would take viewers on a roller-coaster of emotions from laughter to tears and even pity.
After critical acclaim in her past movies, such as ‘Life and Living it’, ‘Scorned’ and ‘The Perfect Picture’, it is clear that writer/producer/director Shirley Frimpong-Manso and her Sparrow Productions crew have the skills and technical capabilities to tell a good story with wonderful pictures, sound and cinematography. So perhaps the challenge for her now is to come out with creative storylines that would set her work apart. She managed to achieve this to a large extent in ‘A Sting In A Tale’ by boldly telling a feel-good story that would leave many confused and guessing throughout the duration of the movie; but leave a smile on their faces at the end of the film.
While Shirley succeeded with the twist and suspense elements in this beautiful story, there were some pitfalls along the way. The picture and sound quality were great as usual and the emotions through out the movie felt so real while watching it. Adjetey Anang’s acting was very believable but I cannot say the same for Joselyn C-Dumas (Esi). Her acting was a bit too mechanical, almost painful to watch and believable in the least. It was not clear throughout the movie which class she belonged to because even though her boyfriend, Nii Aryee was poor, her comportment was at times one of opulence.
Majid Michel was able to lose his stereotypical bad boy looks for most part of the movie because he played the role of a witty poor hustler throughout. But I saw his usual mannerism in one particular love scene when he almost bit the lips of Esi like some Hollywood lover boy. I know poor folks show love too but not like this Shirley! LOL. I wish Chris Attoh would have played this role so that I could find out how good an actor he is outside the typecast rich boy or hunk about town. By the way, what was with the ‘line’ that ran through Nii Aryee’s bushy hair or Kuuku’s afro? When I saw the trailer for the first time, I thought the movie was set in the 70’s or 80’s but I gathered from watching the movie that, it was just a way of portraying their hustle.
I just have to ask Shirley this question though: what was the meaning of the scene in which Frema went into the lake asking Kuuku to come and save her? That was so surreal and completely unnecessary to story; and forget outlandish. I also wish that the scenes in which Kuuku narrates his tale to Shirley in her office could have come out much better; the picture quality was too distinct from the rest of the movie and not in a good way.
All in all, ‘A Sting in a Tale’ is a nice movie that would put a smile on the faces of viewers all over because of the twists and comic elements in it. Although the ending is so unrealistic, it is not a serious movie and so that could be forgiven. Wouldn’t it have been a better sting if the movie ended with Nii Aryee’s ghost chasing after Esi across the streets into an approaching vehicle and then cutting it off to leave viewers guessing?