#TIFF18 Review - Nigerian Dramedy "Lionheart" Tells a Compelling Story of Family and Strength

Seeing a Nigerian film at TIFF is always an event. The first year I went, I had seen the opening night of “The Wedding Party” which was introduced by David Oyelowo himself. The energy and excitement during this screening was palpable and brimming with Nigerian pride - with people dressed to the nines, excited chatter about their favorite Nollywood stars, and an overall joyful environment.

This was the same when I went to a public screening of LIONHEART. The film follows ambitious Adaeze who works for her father’s bus company called Lionheart. Though she is known for her intelligence , wit, and her hard-work, she has yet to prove that she can handle being at the top of the company. When her father falls ill, Adaeze seizes the opportunity to prove that she has what it takes to run Lionheart. Unfortunately, the timing of this comes when it is revealed that the company is in a significant amount of debt. Adaeze must figure out a plan to save the business, salvage her family’s name, and show she has what it takes to lead.

LIONHEART is the directorial debut of actress Genevieve Nnaji. As the character of Adaeze, Nnaji takes command of the role and portrays a strong-minded character very well. She’s the type of woman Beyonce sings , but she also displays a level of authentic vulnerability.

The film has many beautiful moments where Adaeze is interacting with her family and it’s a lovely sneak peek into the dynamics of a Nigerian household. As a Black-American, I always enjoy watching this, because witnessing and learning about specific African cultures and languages is something I personally enjoy. Even if there are scenes that go over my westernized head (like when they start speaking Igbo), I am still having a good time.

One of the highlights of the film is Adaeze’s relationship with her father’s brother, Uncle Godswill. Once he arrives, the film’s comedy is immediately implemented. His laid back laissez-faire attitude mixed with her type A work ethic, leads to many funny scenes and dialouge.

The plot is a bit simplistic and a few of the scenes are contrived, however LIONHEART is a enjoyable film. Netflix has reportedly acquired the film, which I feel is the perfect space for this type a movie. If you’re looking for light entertainment with a nice message about family and endurance, then I feel LIONHEART would be a good fit.