Review: ‘The Destiny of Lesser Animals’

Crime-thriller elements meant to complement the pic's narrative of rediscovered national identity fall by the wayside, resulting in loose ends.

A Ghanaian police officer, robbed of the phony passport he had counterfeited to jump ship to America, launches an official investigation that ironically leads him deeper into his own culture in tyro American helmer Deron Albright’s “The Destiny of Lesser Animals.” Crime-thriller elements meant to complement the pic’s narrative of rediscovered national identity fall by the wayside, resulting in loose ends. Penned by Ghanaian lead thesp Yao B. Nunoo, this earnest, disjointed curio feels more like an introspective travelogue than the action film it intermittently tries to be. Theatrical chances look slim.

Inspector Boniface (Nunoo), unable to admit to possessing an illegal passport, pretends it was his police-issue revolver that was stolen. Following the thief’s trail, his quest intersects an ongoing manhunt led by wise, charismatic Chief Inspector Darko (Fred Amugi). Boniface is taken under Darko’s wing and fervently lectured about their motherland’s hard-fought legacy as they pursue the increasingly murderous malefactor. Another intergenerational Ghanaian archetype, an enigmatic little Zongo beggar girl (Xolasie Mawuenyega), also haunts his footsteps. Boniface’s dreams of America fade into the distance. Unfortunately, so does the unresolved crime plot.

The Destiny of Lesser Animals

U.S.-Ghana

Production

A Bright Noon Pictures production in association with the Ghana Academy of Film & Television Arts. Produced by Deron Albright, Francis Gbormittah, Dede Maitre, Yao B. Nunoo. Co-producer, LoriAnn Schneider. Directed by Deron Albright. Screenplay, Yao B. Nunoo.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Aaron T. Bowen; editors, Jacob Bricca, Lisa Molomot; music, John Avarese; music supervisors, Koo Nimo, Seth Paris; production designer, Francis Gbormittah. Reviewed at Museum of Modern Art, New York, March 21, 2011. (In New Directors/New Films.) Running time: 88 MIN.

With

Yao B. Nunoo, Fred Amugi, Abena Takyi, Sandy Arkhurst, Xolasie Mawuenyega. (Fante, English, Pidgin, Twi, Ga dialogue)

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