Half Heaven is a Cameroonian-Nigerian movie that unearths the revelatory encounter between an Evangelist sent on a mission and a prostitute.
On a mission birthed by jealousy and grotesque message from his Church’s lead pastor, Kizito_ a character played by the ever impressive Roland Seehofer packs his bag on a mission to win souls for Christ, but it would cost an arm and perhaps a leg. But undeterred, he embarks on this journey, one that unravels series of secrets before his very eyes.
Directed by Enah Johnscott, the movie set against the perilous and utterly lethal backdrop of the Mboko community, Half Heaven ushers us into a journey with our protagonist, Kizito who has to deal with the harsh reality of spreading the gospel of Christ to a people whose way of life, ideals, traditions, and deep-rooted beliefs do not cut alongside christendom.
Given a one-month deadline, the young Evangelist battles with the reality of having to settle in on one hand, and getting the people of this lost community to accept him and the gospel on the other hand.
Well, my intention isn’t to spill the beans, so I’ll just delve straight into the plus sides of this movie, while also highlighting a few drawbacks.
The performances in Half Heaven are nothing short of top tier, with Seehofer Roland, Syndy Emade, Malvis Ann and Chidi Mokeme all delivering eye catching and head spinning acts, but not enough to give you vertigo, but to ensure that you’re kept on the edge of your seat for this 2 hours or thereabout movie.
Roland and Syndy would take the plaudits out of the lot, with the former displaying a perfect demeanour worthy of a man of God, exuding calm, finesse and sheer vulnerability even as he endears the viewers to him as he navigates the murky waters he finds himself.
Then there’s Syndy Emade (Bisona) who delivers a sultry, yet incredibly convincing performance worthy of a hooker. Her ability to carry herself with the swagger needed for that character while also seamlessly blending it with a soft side to her makes her performance all so authentic.
One thing that stands out for me is the movie cinematography. I mean, it is elite filmmaking to say the least. From capturing the grating, unforgiving landscapes of the Mboko community to shining light on its beauty all at the same time_ making for a resounding pleasure to the sight.
Similarly, the costumes, setting, language and soundtracks sums up how beautiful a work of art this movie is.
In all honesty, this movie doesn’t seem to have any spoiler whatsoever, but there’s perhaps no perfect work of art anywhere. Personally, from where I’m sitting, I feel maybe the flashbacks scenes playing in Kizito’s head every other time should have been dwelled upon a bit more. You could say I’m just being truculent, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that Half Heaven is a very decent work of art nonetheless_ and this explains further why it was selected to represent Cameroon in the Best International Feature Film category at the 96th (2024) Academy Awards.
Release Date: June 2023
Running Time: 2 hours 7 minutes
Director: Enah Johnscott
My rating: 9/10