14:32 or #ThatMovieFromGhana (or Step Up GH) is a feature length film by the Exposure Network and it comes across as pretty much indie in nature if that makes any sense seeing as the Ghanaian film terrain isn’t overflowing with money. 14:32 is carried through by a slew of newcomers and comes at audiences with the buoyancy and energy you would expect from a hip hop dance film but the compact screenplay fails to attach any substance to the exuberant on-screen experience. For a film dubbed “that movie from Ghana” identifying with the young folk onscreen proves quite difficult (but what does my anti-social ass know) and I simply decided tag the central characters as privileged Ghanaian millenials.
The film presents brothers, Cudjoe (Joshua Essuman-Mensah) and Gyasi (Gideon Clottey), who are looking to get more out of rapping and dancing than society has to offer and if you know Ghana, you know society isn’t offering much (maybe it is that movie from Ghana after all). The official synopsis of this film captures all this and goes on to add their travails at fulfillment leads them to drugs, gambling, prison and betrayal. Like all synopses everywhere it is a tad misleading but you can fill in the gaps is or when you see it. The brothers appear quite good at their passions and we watch them early on kick ass with swag during duels in their respective fields. Good things appear on the horizon as Gyasi and his dance troupe are looking to take a street dance competition by storm whilst his brother has a record deal on the horizon but then Cudjoe is mixed up in a drug trade – has been for a while. The law eventually catches up with him after a tip off (these hoes ain’t loyal) and he finds himself holding fast to the “F” the police ethos in an interrogation room.
The film clearly tries to infuse some stakes and give us something to invest in but the plotting is bland and lacking focus. There is a crime subplot the film doesn’t commit to along withs a couple of coy romantic threads and don’t forget Gyasi has his competition coming up but why is that important again? The film just isn’t assured enough to realize the threads it dangles and it frankly doesn’t do enough with the characters to make us care all that much. I’m a sucker for the crime narrative and I’m on a high after just finishing all 70 something episodes of The Wire. The film teases by introducing the ominously debonair Mr Solomon (Mark Cofie) who delivers slick lines straight out of a Godfather script. “Blood makes you brothers, loyalty makes us family” he says as the film starts to take shape and defines perspective but wait, it’s the end credits. You could argue this 90 minute film works extremely well as 20 minute first act with proper stakes looking to surface and maybe they could work at a solid sequel.
A lot of 14:32’s short comings stem from its weak script which at times felt like it was burdened by the prospect of creating dialogue for it’s already paper thin characters. There is very little personality to hold on to and there are some bizarre jumps in character making any audience investment difficult. The cast does the best with what’s on the table as Essuman-Mensah comes of with the makings of a leading man and Cofie serves us a bundle of intrigue – the one positive step by this script. The film’s saving grace remains its main selling point, the dancing. The dance sequences are well grounded and marked by impressive feats of athleticism and some inventive choreography. I doubt fans of the street dance art form will be left disappointed but those of us who came in wanting more will be.