"New Money" is pretty and messy at the same time
Though Toun's success story is magical and an enviable one, she isn't an easy character to root for.
The movie tells the story of Toun (Jemima Osunde), a 23-year-old young woman of modest means, who suddenly finds herself thrust into the world of the elite when she discovers that the father she thought was long dead is a recently-deceased billionaire, who has left her his billion-dollar company to run.
She eventually learns that her mother was legally married to her father, Ifeanyi (Kalu Ikeagwu); however, their relationship was annulled following strong opposition from his family. He remarried, this time to Ebube (Dakore Akande), a young lady of the same class, but they had no child together.
In his will, Toun's late father entrusts her with the responsibility of running his conglomerate, worth billions of naira. Prior to this, Toun had a different dream of becoming a fashion designer.
Ignoring her mother's disapproval, Toun dives into a life of wealth and luxury that is threatened by certain family members -- the deceitful uncle, Chuka (Wale Ojo), and his infuriatingly entitled son, Patrick (Adeolu Adefarasin), whose joint mission is to get rid of Toun.
Toun makes their plan easy with her irrational financial decisions, which often put the company in a bad light, and portrays her as an incapable CEO.
The focus of “New Money” is not on how Toun adapts to her new life. Neither is it about the challenges that come with running a billion-dollar company, which seems like an interesting narrative to explore; it is so much more about that time in your life when so much is undecided, and there’s difficulty having the guts to make a move.
You have to suspend reality to believe certain sequence of events: a successful and smart billionaire leaving a conglomerate to an inexperienced shop girl without a sound plan in place to integrate her into the life, Toun spending millions of naira at a club, and spending outrageous amounts of money on gifts and poorly-thought-out business deals.
Though Toun's success story is magical and an enviable one, she isn't an easy character to root for. After learning the identity of her biological father, she hops into the elite world, overlooking where she was coming from with barely a thought of the mother she is supposedly loyal to. She spends more time on her futile activities than she does running or learning how to run the company.
Her motivations keep drifting from scene to scene, so much that it’s hard to know what exactly she wants; does she want to be a full-time CEO? Or would she rather leave the world of business for fashion?
While this indecision could make for compelling storytelling, you could tell that it was not a conscious decision made for the movie, but a result of it losing its grip on what exactly it wants to explore with the character.
Toun’s character arc is so difficult to get behind that you could be forgiven for hoping that she loses her inheritance to her detractors who seem to have a better understanding of how to move forward.
Despite this, the character is delivered with so much finesse by Osunde, who also has great chemistry with some characters that she shares the screen with.
There was a great combination of friendship and love as seen in her relationship with her best friend, Binta, as well as the one she shares with her mother, Fatima (Kate Henshaw) who also delivers a splendid performance.
Henshaw plays Fatima as serious, wise, playful, strong and selfless. Every time you think she might descend into a helpless woman hoping to be pitied or saved, Henshaw pulls back and grounds Fatima.
The film's most compelling scenes are those that show Toun with Fatima after she learns the identity of her father. Fatima is a mother, who had to make certain difficult decisions and sacrifices for her daughter, while Toun is a daughter, who, rightfully, is bitter about the years she missed out on with her father.
Another interesting character is Joseph (Blossom Chukwujekwu), Toun's lawyer-turned-friend. I enjoyed the dynamic of their relationship and appreciated the fact that he was there to make an attempt to keep her grounded and normal; although there is also an unnecessarily forced love arc right as you were hoping the movie would not thread that path.
The worst pairing Toun gets in the movie is her time with Ganiyu (Etim Effiong), who is another love interest that sort of creates an uninteresting love triangle.
Toun's relationship with Qwam (Falz), her comical leech of a boyfriend, her friendship with the lively Binta, as well as her few encounters with her prying boss at the shop (expertly played by Rita Edwards) provide enough laughs.
“New Money” isn’t as intense as Oshin’s previous works, but the pretty picture, simple dialogue, chemistry between the characters, and special performances by most of the actors, all come together to make "New Money" quite a pleasant experience.
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