Poverty, Paranoia and Sudden Wealth Syndrome Are “A Bag of Trouble”
Having two of Nigeria’s most loved comedians in Sabinus and Brother Shaggy share the screen seemed like one too good to be true, yet Blue Pictures Distribution, in conjunction with Spinning Films and Tehilla Films, made it a reality in their latest psycho-comedy film, “A Bag of Trouble.”
While you can anticipate non-stop rib-aching laughter, you’d be surprised at how deep “A Bag of Trouble” goes beyond the surface humor and bores into the human psyche. The allure and perils of sudden wealth is a recurring theme in cinematic history, particularly within Nollywood.
However, “A Bag of Trouble” manages to breathe new life into this well-trodden narrative path by making it seem as though it’s never been told before. At the heart of this unearthing lies the concept of Sudden Wealth Syndrome, a term used to describe the emotional challenges that individuals who are faced with sudden wealth go through.
We see this primarily in the central character, Mosquito (Broda Shaggi), a wretched yet commendably humble vulcanizer in the heart of Ibadan: a city that hasn’t been so safe. Whether aided by sheer luck or instinct, he finds and rescues the recently abducted daughter of a wealthy politician, Senator Coker (Jide Kosoko) who rewards him (senator-style) with a bag filled with cash.
This macguffin sets the stage for the ensuing humor and psychological evaluation as Mosquito is engulfed with paranoia believing that his new-found wealth has brought unwanted attention. In less than 24 hours after becoming a multi-millionaire, he has a series of nightmares and delusions that people are after him because of it. To him, danger lurks in every corner, even from an innocent electrician just doing his job. Ultimately, he does what a poor man does best–speculate the money’s origin.
This pivotal moment underscores the movie’s message perhaps more potently than any other: poverty affects the human psyche as much as any other factor. The idea by not-so-privileged folks, especially in Nigeria, that incomprehensible wealth cannot be acquired legally contributes to emotional challenges when such wealth suddenly greets them.
Although Mosquito is the major embodiment, he doesn’t stand idle in the dock. With him is a couple at a ranch who suspect the rancher of obtaining diabolical wealth just because they cannot fathom such a swift grass-to-grace upliftment.
The movie does well not to cast this umbrella over such a wide demographic instead highlighting the different psychological responses of the characters – most notably the contrast between Mosquito and Jamiu’s application of unexpected wealth – to showcase that not all would be so unwise to succumb to the syndrome.
Sabinus enters the scene quite later than one would expect and with less screentime. He doesn’t do much. But then he’s Sabinus, he doesn’t need to. He seamlessly combines his trademark theatrics with Broda Shaggi’s to deliver a comedic sauce so rich in substance that it’s overwhelming at times – again proving why he’s often regarded as one of the very few comedians gifted with natural comedy.
Speaking of doing too much, Broda Shaggi’s Mosquito may be guilty of this offense. One may reckon that his folly and dramatic reactions were intentionally made to be off putting but pairing a character like that with Broda Shaggi’s eccentric style may reach the audience’s breaking point, especially those who have not been a fan of his brand of humor.
Sometimes less is more (just take a cue from Sabinus). Nevertheless, if you can get past this, which is not nearly as difficult as painted above, you would find Broda Shaggi’s performance phenomenal.
While knee-deep in the examination of the highs and lows of newfound wealth, “A Bag of Trouble” never loses sight of the underlying issue of corrupt governance plaguing the country. With the way the governing elite handle the economic and security affairs of society, one can’t blame the lower class for viewing any wealth trickling from above with suspicion.
Director Mazi Chimex’s approach to telling this story remains unadulterated, aiming to authentically capture the heart of the narrative. His meticulous attention to detail is evident in the film’s use of pristine cinematography and captivating aerial shots that showcase the historic city of Ibadan, effectively immersing the audience in the rich culture.
“A Bag of Trouble” is not merely a tale of riches; it is an advocate for change that constantly resounds a “change that mindset” message up to the very end. In a country where everyone seems so focused on “chasing the bag,” few are ready to accept what comes next when it is finally secured. “A Bag of Trouble” saves you the stress of waiting to find out by offering a profound exploration of what happens when the bag of fortune is opened, and it reveals the complexities hidden within.
Release date: September 1, 2023
Run-time: 2 hours and 10 minutes
Streaming Service: None. Cinematic Release
Director: Mazi Chimex
Cast: Broda Shaggi, Sabinus, Jide Kosoko, Jude Chukwuka, Hafiz Oyetoro, Bimbo Oshin, Joseph Momodu, and Lizzy Jay.