At the start of Juliet Yaa Asantewaa Asante’s Silverain, the thrust of the movie’s message is apparent. It chronicles the struggles of two porters (kayayee) in the slums of a West African city and portrays how political leaders exploit people of the low class for their gain.
Inspired by actual events, Silverain is a social melodrama that tells the story of Adjoa (played by Joselyn Dumas) who braces against all odds to make ends meet as a market porter and her near-tragic encounter with Bruce (played by Enyinaa Nwigwe) – son of the Speaker of Parliament, whose lust for women knows no bounds.
Bruce’s urge to help Adjoa through the harsh realities of poverty is met with strong opposition from his elite family as he restrained from giving in to her irresistible allure.
The clash of social classes has been explored severally in Ghanaian movies but Juliet Asante brought the perspective of political power, menace of inequality and promiscuity.
The Eagle Productions and 4Syte TV collaboration must be given plaudits for its remarkable photography and assemblage of a Pan African cast with actors from South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Ghana.
The cast includes international Ghanaian model, Belinda Baidoo, soul singer, Ofie Kodjoe, veteran actor, Kofi Bucknor and former Big Brother House finalist, Elikem Kumordzie.
However, over 30-minutes into this new film, the story is neither straightforward nor clear. The drama unfolds and builds up in the run up to the end of the film. The scenes were abrupt and not allowed to breathe.
At first, it feels like the scenes were just bundled together to prolong the length of the film as it failed to build coherence and make complete sense.
The role played by Elikem Kumordzie came across as totally unnecessary; a military-looking chief of staff, who wears a stern face, gives orders without weight and his obsession with wearing slick army uniform.
As the Chief of Staff, a high ranking position and aide to the president, one expects his character to exude some seriousness in the general plot but it stops short of that.
The film by Ms. Asante, a Harvard Kennedy School graduate and media practitioner, did not succeed in telling the turbulent and coup-prone angle to the story, of which she seemed to have started.
The film captured the agony, mayhem and chaos created by state security in their clamp down on porters and political dissidents while exploring the stereotypes of bribery and rape.
Joselyn Dumas must be commended for taking up an unconventional role but fails to make a strong performance in her portrayal. As the reigning Ghana Movie Awards’ Best Actress, expectations were certainly high; nevertheless, her depiction of a dark-skinned street girl (thanks to an odd make-up) was soulless and far from remarkable.
The Pan African cast gave some refreshing but unexceptional dramatic performances in Silverain; thumbs up to lead male character, Enyinna Nwigwe, Ure Eke and South African actor Chumani Pan.
The plot attempts to explore a meaningless and avoidable rift between Bruce and business rival (played by Big Brother Chase housemate Michael Bonney Bassey) didn’t go down well, as their vocal exchanges were laced with expletives and swear words coupled with a flat performance by the latter.
I won’t get into the debate over the suitability of the movie title because a scene of Adjoa laughing, grimacing and smirking in a downpour seems tangible enough a reason for the title.
Being her debut directorial effort, Juliet Asante’s well-intentioned drama, Silverain, sets into motion critical issues the world must look at solving to make the world a better place, with social inequality standing tall in that list. However, you leave the cinema with more questions begging for answers.
Silverain is written and executively produced by Juliet Yaa Asantewaa Asante and produced by Adizah Yemohley Yemoh.