The Gist: Adams Apples is a 10-chapter cinema movie series created and directed by Shirley Frimpong Manso, and produced by Ken Attoh. The series follows the lives of the Adams women – four 21st century cosmopolitan Ghanaian women, who undergo the struggles, triumphs and questions that life has to offer. Each scene involving the widowed ex-diplomat’s wife, Mrs. Adams (played by Anima Misa Amoah), her 30-something-year-old daughters (‘Baaba’ played by Yvonne Okoro, ‘Jennifer’ played by Jocelyn Dumas and ‘Kukua’ played by Naa Ashorkor Mensah-Doku), and the leading men (John Dumelo, Kweku Sintim Misa, Ajetey Anang) captures the very essence of a middle-income family living in Accra. The first chapter of their story premiered at the National Theatre on April 21st, and is currently showing at the Silverbird Theatre in Accra. The chapters are projected to be released periodically until February 2012. I’d also suggest keeping tabs on the movie as it could possibly be showing in Nigeria, the UK, US and other countries.

What’s To Like: Being my first in-theatre experience of Ms. Frimpong Manso’s handiwork, I had high expectations. Aside the story line, I believe its important that a movie have its own voice and flow in order to be a true body of art. My expectations were greatly exceeded. Here are some of the elements that I considered especially refreshing.

  • The Concept: From all indications, Ms. Frimpong-Manso is not only a good filmaker, but also a good business woman. Once again, she’s broken new ground with the 10-chapter cinema series concept. Whereas she could have easily opted to make the film a TV-series, she went the cinema route, and I believe her concept will pay her dearly. As opposed to just signing deals with TV stations, she could possibly be raking in some serious GHC for the next year or so. Not to mention the DVD sales if and when she finally comes out with a 10-part(?) DVD set. I watched Adams Apples a day after the premiere, when it started showing at Silverbird, and get this, the room assigned for the 7pm showing was filled to capacity, so a second room was made available! Already, people who have watched the first chapter are contemplating what could possibly happen in the second chapters, which is set for theatres in June 2011. My guess is Adams Apples will not be as predictable as some people think. Great concept, good business! 
  • Story Line + Themes: By now, people know to expect a good story from Ms. Frimpong Manso, and Adams Apples does not disappoint in that regard. Additionally, it goes a step further: it can be identified with. In order not to give away the story, I’ll just say that it deals with some of the very issues that many Ghanaians (and other nationalities) deal with today – love, money, work, conflict, faith, culture etc. These are overarching themes that practically everyone encounters at one point or another, regardless of whether you’re an ex-diplomat’s widow/child or not. It also introduces some of the elements of 21st century living that are becoming part of our daily realities, case in point, divorce. One other theme that I suspect might run throughout the series is the question of infidelity. In one scene the statement is made that “Men will always cheat. It’s part of their DNA”, to which the movie audience went up in an uproar of laughter. Another one is the issue of women’s independence and the changing and various roles of women in Ghanaian society. The test of a good movie is in whether it’s magic continues long after the credits have rolled. If you ask me, those alone, are enough to get tongues a-wagging about some prevailing social issues. Here’s a video interview with Ms. Frimpong Manso about the movie.
  • The Opening + Scene Changes: This jumped out at me right from the start. The introduction was very well done. In addition to featuring the cast, it showcased Accra – market, traffic, people walking, the rising number of tall buildings in the business district and so on. I think that really helped embed the Adams family in their home location. The scene changes were also splendid and seemed to focus on time of day. From an afternoon to evening switch for example, there was a roll of images showing Accra lighting up for the night. Just had to put this out there. Pleasant surprise.
  • Promotion/Publicity: Some movie producers tend to ignore this aspect of film making. However, it is just as – if not more – important than the making of the actual film itself. A producer’s approach to promotion and publicity could essentially make or break the movie. Personally, I thought the scenes picked for the movie trailer and chapter one snippet were clever. Clever because, it got me – and I guess others – wondering. “What are they talking about? Did they pick up the phone?” That alone, would warrant going to see the movie or getting the DVD when it comes out. In addition to the digital promotion, the print publicity (movie flyer) was on point. It showed just the four lead women and incorporated the idea of the Garden of Eden (Adam’s apple??) for a beautiful finish. Finally, the official movie website and facebook page ensures that people outside Ghana could also have their appetites whetted. High marks, indeed!

  • Music: The music used in Adams Apples was simply exceptional. Not only were they highly appropriate for the various scenes, they were so good to the point where I think Adams Apples could have been staged as a musical and still draw a great crowd. It’s quite difficult to use music in eliciting laughter from an audience, but the Sparrow Productions team succeeded in doing exactly that! More so, practically all the music used was Ghanaian, including the official soundtrack (and tag line) for the movie: “Sexy, Sassy, Wahala” by Efya. I think it’s such a great thing that Ghallywood and the Ghana Music Industry are feeding off of each other’s energies and supporting one another. Thumbs up!
  • Costume: If I were to rate Adams Apples on its costumes and wardrobe, I’d give it a ten! No, the movie didn’t feature haute couture brand names or anything of the sort. What it did do though was feature primarily African print. And I’m not talking just kaba and slit either. As many can attest to, there’s (an encouraging) wave of change on Ghana’s fashion front, with new, local talents taking the lead in redressing Ghana by employing our traditional African prints in modern designs. If you’re looking for your next design for a wedding, outdooring, clubbing or just chilling with your friends, take your pencil and notepad with you to the movie theatre to sketch a couple of designs. Alternatively, you can do what one audience member did and take a photo of the dress that captures your eye (although I wouldn’t recommend that LOL). There was no shortage of fashion elements throughout the movie – from belts, to broaches, to hair accessories, and what-have-you. And for the men – I’m sure you’ll find a couple of things you like too!
  • Humor: Normally, I’d discuss humor within the storyline. But for Adams Apples, I must say the humor stands out. While the movie is not categorized as a comedy like its predecessor “6 Hours to Christmas”, it does weave humor into the entire first chapter. What was really surprising and refreshing is the fact that it was little things – like the way the sisters argue with each other, or how a daughter teases Mrs. Adams, or even a prayer session –  that made people laugh. And, above all, it didn’t exactly feature any of Ghana’s major “comedians”, with the possible exception of KSM, yet it had people bawling all the same.
What’s Not to Like: For once, I have very little to complain about, LOL. Like I said before, the movie exceeded my expectations. Some people think the Chapter 2 trailer gave away too much of the story, I think it’s all a ploy to surprise us even further. All in all, we’re all gripped with anticipation at how it will play out.

The Verdict: At the risk of sounding like a seasoned movie critic, I’ll employ one word to describe Shirley Frimpong Manso’s latest production, Adams Apples: delightful. And it is, in every sense of the word. From the script, to the characters, to the video quality, the music, costume, promotion, everything really, was tastefully done. Ms. Frimpong Manso has proven, once again, that she is a force to be reckoned with in the Ghanaian and African movie industries (I’d take a chance on her to say she could even give some Hollywood movie producers a run for their money). Most importantly, Ms. Frimpong Manso’s latest exploit points to the fact that she might still have a number of surprising and creative tricks up her sleeve. Definitely worth watching!

Not convinced? Check out these other reviews/alerts:

A bite of “Adams’ Apples”:
The African Movie Critic:

Photo Source: Adams Apples Facebook Page