Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti takes Nollywood biopics to a new level

Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti takes Nollywood biopics to a new level

Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti isn’t just a movie; it’s a captivating journey into the life of an icon, a beacon of strength and resilience in the face of adversity.

Directed by Bolanle Austen-Peters and penned by the talented Tunde Babalola, this film delves deep into the remarkable story of Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, a pioneering women’s rights activist in Nigeria whose legacy continues to inspire generations. She was the mother of late Afrobeat musician Fela Anikulapo Kuti.


At the heart of this masterpiece lies the outstanding portrayal of Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti by the 2024 AMVCA Best Actress, Kehinde Bankole. With every expression, gesture, and word, Kehinde Bankole breathes life into the character, embodying her passion, determination, and unwavering commitment to justice.


The actress and the activist even share an uncanny resemblance when juxtaposing their photos. From her early years of defiance to her pivotal role in the Abeokuta Women’s Union, Kehinde Bankole’s portrayal is nothing short of mesmerizing. She effortlessly captures the complexities of Funmilayo’s character, from her moments of strength to her vulnerabilities, which enabled me to connect with the woman behind the legend.


Iyimide Ayo-Olumoko played a young Funmilayo, while veteran actress Joke Silva played the aged activist. Other stars included Adunni Ade, Adebayo Salami, Omowunmi Dada, Jide Kosoko, Delete Odule, Ibrahim Suleiman, Bikiya Graham-Douglas, and Yewande Osamein.


Ibrahim Suleiman supports Kehinde Bankole, whose portrayal of Israel Ransome-Kuti, Funmilayo’s husband, adds depth to the narrative. The actor brings to life the unwavering support and love that Israel had for his wife, showcasing the emotional nuances of their relationship with subtlety and grace. Kehinde Bankole and Ibrahim Suleiman share a palpable chemistry on screen, enhancing the film’s portrayal of the personal sacrifices made to pursue a greater cause.


The cinematography in Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti is nothing short of breathtaking. From the sweeping landscapes of Nigeria to the intimate moments shared between characters, every frame is carefully crafted to evoke emotion and immerse the audience in the world of the film.


The period costumes and authentic set design further enhance the immersive experience, transporting viewers back to colonial-era Nigeria. However, I didn’t like that the protesting women wore blue Adire outfits. It seemed like the costume was the same blue Adire we saw in Anikulapo: Rise of the Spectre. Other colours of Adire should have been used instead. I also didn’t like the film’s look. I thought it used global desaturation during colour grading, with a fade that made the movie look washed out, almost like it was still in LOG format.


One of the film’s greatest strengths lies in its compelling storytelling. Through a combination of powerful dialogue and poignant narrative arcs, the writer masterfully captures the essence of Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti’s journey, from her early struggles to her triumphs as a fearless leader. Each scene is infused with emotion and meaning, with the ability to leave a lasting impact on the audience long after the credits roll.


Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti is more than just a biopic; it’s a testament to the power of resilience, courage, and the enduring legacy of one woman’s fight for equality. Currently, in cinemas, the film serves as a call to action for future generations to continue her work. With its stellar performances, stunning cinematography, and compelling storytelling.


Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti gets a 7/10 because it is not just a must-see for anyone seeking inspiration and enlightenment but a new level for Nollywood biopics. Little wonder it carted home two awards at the 12th edition of the Africa International Film Festival. It got considered for the Oscars by the Nigerian Official Selection Committee for the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences. The film also won Best Writing Movie at the 10th edition of the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Award.


Ruth Semilore

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