Movie Title: Gone
Year Of Release: 2021
Director: Daniel Ademinokan
Producer: Joy Odiete
Production Company: Blue Pictures Studios
Viewing Platform: Netflix
Cast: Sam Dede (Ani), Stella Damasus (Ngozi), Gbenga Titiloye (Phillip), Gabriel Afolayan (Ayo-Chukwu), Bimbo Ademoye (Anu), Sophie Alakija (Zainab), Bimbo Manuel (Samson) Emma Oh Ma God (Femi), Adejumoke Aderounmu (Clara), Nobert Young (Ngozi’s father), Ngozi Ezeonu (Ngozi’s mother), Kunle Remi (NB Staff).
We’ve all heard some variation of this story. A man leaves his family in Nigeria in search of greener pastures overseas. In some cases, the man comes back but in most, the man disappears and his wife and children are left to fend for themselves however they can. While it is generally believed that men who do not come back have likely become entangled with other women, this is not always accurate as Daniel Ademinokan shows in Gone.
Animashaun (Ani for short) was a boxing champion who left for the US to better his boxing career. He had plans to come back for his family comprising a pregnant wife, Ngozi, and a two-year-old daughter. A few months after his arrival in New York, Ani calls his wife and tells her to forget about him. And that was the last she heard of him till twenty-five years later when he reappears with an intention to win back his family.
Acting: Gone is a highly emotional, haunting and evocative movie and it must be said that all the main acts delivered on this beautifully. Sam Dede was not stingy with the tears when the occasion called for it, Bimbo Ademoye showed she was not a pushover longing for a long-lost father, Gabriel Afolayan was the ideal spoilt last born/mouthy king of neighbourhood walkabouts and Stella Damasus was just beautiful. As a new act, Emma OhmaGod was also the consummate neighbourhood bully/tout. The cast gets A+ for their acting.
Story: Not many stories look at the reason behind a man’s abandonment of his family after travelling abroad. The few that do mostly attribute it to another woman. Gone was different in this regard. It showed that while Ani’s misfortune started with a woman, that was not the end of it. Just as it is in real life. Gone also showed a woman who was able to keep her family together and build her home despite the disappointment she suffered.
Casting: For the most part casting was top-notch and the actors were round pegs in round holes.
Setting: The choice of Festac as the primary location is brilliant.
Ayo-Chukwu in a faceoff with Ani in a scene from Gone
Back Story: We didn’t see much of what had happened in the twenty-five years since Ani left his family. Except for a constant reference to ‘having suffered and done so many things to support the family’ that Ngozi and Anu kept repeating, there were no visuals to justify this. Using flashbacks could have helped to paint the picture in the minds of viewers instead of telling us. This blunder was redeemed a bit with the strippers’ club scene though.
Casting: While 98% of the cast were perfect in their role, the two lookouts in New York were not. For someone who had been in prison for twenty-four years, the two men who notified Ani’s New York agents of his release from prison looked no older than twenty-four/twenty-five themselves or at the most thirty. How can a five- or six-year-old have such a perfect recall of Ani’s face?
Overall, Gone is a movie you would love. It has the right mix of intrigue and superb acting to keep you glued to your screen.
Reviewed by Oriyomi Adebare-Anthony