Award-winning Ghanaian film director Shirley Frimpong Manso has scored a winner with her latest movie Love or Something Like That – a heartwarming drama about a newly-wed couple whose lives are turned upside down when they learn that one of them is HIV-positive.
The movie is a love story between Kwarley, a beautiful, dynamic surgeon (played by Ghanaian actress Joselyn Dumas) and her husband, played by John Dumelo.
The pair have been married only a few weeks when the diagnosis hits them – just at a point when Kwarley, who has been fanatical about protected sex – “I’m a doctor after all,” – decides to go on the pill rather than to use condoms with her husband, so that they can have deeper intimacy.
Frimpomg Manso’s treatment of the impact of HIV infection among educated, upwardly-mobile professionals is sure to resonate deeply with its viewers, especially in Ghana, where UNAIDS warned this month, that new infections among the educated middle-class are on the rise. This movie is a must see for African movie lovers who want a new approach to old themes.
The effect of the news on the couple’s relationship unfolds in a plot which is well-crafted,
and movingly executed by an award-winning cast. Christabel Ekeh (Ghanaian) and Nigerian OC Ukeje, are in turn funny and compelling as supporting male and female leads. Ukeje who stars as Henry, Kwarley’s ex-painter boyfriend, is particularly convincing in his complex and dramatic role. ( Note: the pot smoking scenes).
What makes the movie stand out is Frimpong Manso’s depiction of raw emotion and reaction after the HIV-positive status is revealed. Stigma, jealousy, betrayal and anger unfold in natural harmony with the movie’s plot and believable characters. Other themes in play are Kwarley’s dilemma over career vs marriage, friendship and faith.
The story, which is set in an urban middle-class setting, is filmed against a
backdrop of Accra’s glamorous restaurants, neighborhoods and shopping malls, with brilliant cinematography, sound and special effects.
By contrast, although safe sex messages are emphasized throughout the film, Kwarley’s best friend Asantewaa, played brilliantly by Ghanaian Nana Mensah, is having an affair with a married man, and has little to say on the subject, aside from her hesitation in knowing her HIV status.
I hate to be a “spoiler” so I won’t go into further details.
Ghana has been touted as a global trail-blazer in the fight against HIV-AIDS, recording an impressive reduction in mother-to-child transmission of HIV, increased availability
of antiretroviral treatment and reduction in HIV prevalence among sex workers.
UNAIDS is currently spearheading a new campaign dubbed “Protect The Goal,” focusing on the middle class. Already, UNAIDS global, Ghana Protect the Goal Partnership and Ghana AIDS Commission, have heartily endorsed Frimpong Manso’s latest film as a useful tool for raising some of the sensitive issues around the issue.
FrimpongManso is a film director, writer and producer and also founder and CEO of Sparrow Productions, a film, television, and advertising production company based in Ghana. Love Or Something Like That was co-produced with Ghanaian Ken Attoh and Dumas and directed by FrimpongManso.
In addition to great potential for raising public awareness on HIV, her latest film, with its multi-national cast, shows the marks of indisputable market appeal beyond the shores of Ghana and Africa.
Love Or Something Like That is currently showing at Silverbird Cinemas, Accra and Weija.