The Hollywood romantic comedy, Crazy Rich Asians, adapted from the best-selling trilogy by Kevin Kwan proved to the world that when it comes to lavish spending or opulent displays, no one does it quite like contemporary Asia’s one percent. Nigeria may be the world capital of extreme poverty, but it is also home to the richest black person on the planet. Aliko Dangote maintains a home in highbrow Ikoyi, Lagos where his neighbors are some of the wealthiest persons this side of the Atlantic, even if they have not been Forbes certified just yet.
Who better to unclutter the glitter that obscures the clustered lives of these crazy rich Lagosians than Bolanle Austen-Peters who was born, groomed and is married into this most aspirational of social classes? After producing the fantastic but little seen Ebola chronicle, 93 Days, Austen-Peters whose previous directing duties have all been on the stage- Fela and the Kalakuta Queens, Queen Moremi the musical– takes on the big screen with The Bling Lagosians.
For this rudderless dossier on the inner lives of the Lagos one percent (the film’s tagline reduces the sample size to the 1% of the 1% actually) Austen-Peters has her eye more on the local box office than anything else. What this means is that The Bling Lagosians does not break new ground creatively. No surprise as originality is hardly a factor when box-office domination is the major objective. Rather TheBling Lagosians has been assembled to appeal to the same crowd that has kept EbonyLife films in business since a certain film executive cracked the code with Fifty.
For one reason or the other, Nigerian movie going audiences tend to get excited about stories of the fabulously wealthy, especially when they are behaving badly. Any contrary opinion would bear the burden of proof as Nollywood has continued to make them. Perhaps some perverse thrills lie in recognizing that behind the iron gates and imposing mansions, the lives of the jet set are just as messy as everyone else’s.
The Holloway family at the center of The Bling Lagosians is one of those old moneyed, storied Lagos families with homes in Queens drive, kids who study abroad and wives with spending habits that would make Sophie Kinsella’s shopaholic heroine retire that title.