Jo (Stycie Waweru) is a young girl with a terminal illness who loves superheroes. Her mother Kathryn (Marrianne Nungo) is protective and wants her to rest but, with the help of fellow villagers, her older sister Mwix (Nyawara Ndambia) encourages her passion and her dream to be a real superhero.
My mum always says, ‘the sign of a good film is if it can make you laugh or cry’, and Supa Modo made me do both. It has a tragic premise, a young girl who doesn’t have much time left, but it takes that tragedy and turns it into a story that’s all about the appreciating life and the people in it.
Jo dreams of having super powers, whether that’s flying or being able to take on bad guys. Seeing a village come together to help a young girl fulfil those dreams is delightful. From little acts of moving a jar of salt across the table, to taking on thieves these acts are escapism for Jo in its purest form.
Jo and her friends in the hospital know they are sick and probably dying, and it’s affecting that they have come to terms with that more quickly than some of the adults in their lives. Jo’s mother knows what is to come but wants to keep Jo at home all safe in the hopes that it will prolong the inevitable. Mwix, on the other hand, wants to be honest with Jo and help her achieve her dreams. These three women are all so compelling and their little family is a strong, loving unit.
Even though the story is really about a child slowly dying, it never feels cheap or performative. This is down to a fantastic lead performance from Stycie Waweru who brilliant as Jo. She’s everything a child should be, funny, playful and kind but due to her illness in some ways she’s more thoughtful and older than her years.
Supa Modo is a love letter to superheroes and how that even though heroes can die, they can live on in others, spreading their message and making the world a better place. There’s that old saying “it takes a village to raise a child” and while there’s no doubt who Jo’s mother is, the fact the village neighbours rally around to make Jo’s last few months full of magic and happiness is wonderful. This is a village that looks out for one another and the final scenes are both heart-warming and tear-jerking.
Supa Modo is about family, community and grief. It’s a vibrant tale that balances the sadness with the laughter and the three central female characters are all well-rounded and the actresses give wonderfully touching performances.
Directed by: Likarion Wainaina
Starring: Stycie Waweru, Marrianne Nungo, Nyawara Ndambia