Is there any such thing as a ‘perfect Nollywood movie’?
I, along with a lot other people don’t expect a lot from Nollywood. I’m used to substandard work, movies with plots that make little sense, acting that means something else entirely, dialogue that sounds like it was inspired by Martians – and a billion other flaws.
But every now and then, a movie comes along and makes me want to jump for joy.
I hardly go to the cinemas to watch a Nollywood film. This one, I stumbled into by accident. I was at the cinema to pretend-watch the latest Ape Planet something. I changed my mind last minute – but then, I still wanted to watch a movie.
Against my judgment, I chose Picture Perfect. And I can tell you, I didn’t feel as fulfilled watching Spiderman: Homecoming.
And that is saying a lot.
It is written and produced by Biodun Stephen and directed by Tope Alake. The premise is simple: a tailor/fashion designer gets stuck in a notorious neighborhood and is about to be assaulted by a couple of touts. She’s saved by another tout who pretends to know her from somewhere – just to save her from the other ‘undesirable elements’. A bunch of funny things happen – along with a major plot twist – or not so much a twist, depending on what side of the camera you’re usually on.
I saw it coming tho.
It’s a simple movie; it isn’t trying to fix humanity or the government for that matter. It isn’t trying to make us see the value (or lack thereof) of marriage; it’s not trying to sell us the glam and flimflam of how the other half lives. It’s just trying to be a fun movie; sweet and entertaining.
And that; it manages quite well.
Picture Perfect works best because the cast completely inhabits their characters. Bisola Aiyeola smoked as Kiksy, the lead female’s best friend. She’s completely natural – though she does come across as overacting in a couple of scenes. But she is the voice of reason (as the lead’s best friend usually is) and she’s sweet and kind and fun and real and will marry me by force or…
I’m just kidding.
The women in the movie represent a class of oft-ignored Nigerian woman – strong, independent, capable, and caring, don’t exactly need men but want them nonetheless. The women in this movie are not weak, neither do they have an agenda or feel a need to shove the gender argument in your face. They are just women who love life and are living it on their own terms. I gotta get behind that.
Bolanle Ninalowo also rocked as Jobe aka Jobsy Jor-Jor, the tout who rescues Kumbi (Mary Njoku) from his less-than-gentlemanly associates. I would like to meet this young man, because his accent is spot on, and he cannot seem to stop saying ‘philanderer’ in all its forms. He’s the quintessential tout; rough, strong, respected, honorable, kind, thoughtful, considerate…Jobsy is a character to love and root for.
Mary Njoku, the female lead is also a pot of discovery. The way she switches between fluent English and Yoruba is noteworthy. She, just like Bisola is also completely natural, inhabits the character with grace and feeling. She is believable in all of her scenes, from the dissenting friend to the spurned lover to the consensual lover to the protective mother. The cast had a lot of fun creating this movie – and I’m sure the viewers will too.
The movie is not without its flaws tho, as a couple of scenes/incidents defy explanation, and in some cases, reason. Nothing major, however, the couple plot holes do not dim the fun to be had even slightly.
Is there any such thing as a ‘perfect Nollywood movie’?
Maybe not yet; and I stand corrected, but Picture Perfect comes close.
Now showing in a cinema near you.
My special someone asked me a question some days ago.
“At what point do you realize you’re an adult?”
I said something along the lines of ‘there’s no particular moment, you just grow into the role’, you know – the shoes are already there. You step into them – and grow as you go.
That’s what I think anyways, and that certainly applies to Being Mrs. Elliot, Omoni Oboli’s directorial debut.
The premise is not exactly ‘unique’; it’s been seen in several movies, read in several books – two women meet, are both involved in an accident, and through an error of oversight, switch lives.
Though not exactly.
Starring Omoni Oboli, Majid Michel, AY, Lepacious Bose, Uru Eke, Seun Akindele, Imeh Umoh and so on, Being Mrs Elliot is a movie guaranteed to take you on a roller-coaster of emotions. You actually get to know the characters; as in they introduce themselves to you without frills or pretense. They tell you ‘this is who we are’, and then allow you form your opinions.
From the beginning, the movie appears to be a little disjoint. First we get to meet the dissatisfied wife with fake friends. Then we meet the excited girlfriend; and right in front of the viewer becomes the fiance. Then we meet the overeager-to-please secretary, who also happened to take lessons in massage therapy – and the story sort of comes together.
Omoni Oboli is riveting as the leading lady, selfishly hoarding the spotlight to herself. Though if that’s her fault (as per director) or the fault of her co-stars remains an open debate. Lepacious Bose has spots of brilliance, giving the movie several of its laughter-evoking moments. Even AY, playing a role that comes with its own look and feel and gives little room for expression, is impressive enough to get a pass. Majid’s character, however, was more for sound than sight. If not for the fact that there’s usually a husband in a marriage – whether same sex or otherwise – we won’t have missed him.
The dialogue is engaging enough – even though some lines would have you cringing and clenching your teeth. At some point in the movie too, you would wonder if you were watching a movie or a TV commercial – considering the number of ads/shameless plugs that were thrown in. But hey, the sponsors have to get their due, right?
Slows down the movie dramatically, however.
There were several clichés – several pastiches we have come to associate with Nollywood movies, and the movie would have been more enjoyable if it had been reduced by at least twenty minutes – but on the scale of things, Being Mrs. Elliot will go down in Nollywood history as ‘One Of The Good Ones’. Omoni seems to have found herself wearing a new pair of shoes, that of director, and for the look of things, she will grow comfortably in them.
Not bad for a beginner.
Being Mrs Elliot now showing at Silverbird Cinemas Nationwide (I think), Ozone Cinemas and Genesis Deluxe Cinemas.
Don’t ever second-guess yourself. You disrespect God that way.
Last year in December, I released a short story compilation titled ‘For Days and A Night‘, an e-book that received unexpected accolades from several unexpected quarters. I didn’t expect the kind of reception it got – and I was content.
And then a friend of mine said; “you know what? We should shoot a movie off this book o.”
I thought he was crazy. But he sparked something in my head and we chose the very first story in the book. We worked on the script, argued, fought – and the next thing you know; I’m on a ‘set’ watching a story I wrote come alive.
Now don’t get excited o. It’s not some ‘Steven-Spielberg-Universal-Studios-big-budget’ something – it’s not ‘Nollywood’ sef. Imagine a movie set lit by smartphone torch-lights.
Bottom line though:anything is possible. The only limits we have are the ones we create ourselves. A woman told me; “don’t say the sky is the limit. There are footprints on the moon.”
We weren’t professionals, we didn’t have money – but we had passion. And we rallied round an idea. And whether ‘fantastic’ or ‘lame’ we took what we had and did something. That counts for a little, no?
I apologize for the sound and picture quality. We will do better next time.
Without further ado; I present you a short film off the e-book For Days and A Night: Idle Chatter.
I really am grateful for my friends, the cast, the crew, my team – God really blessed me with some of the greatest guys anywhere in the solar system.
And to you, dear faithful reader. You’re the reason. Thank you.
Big things start small. Go start something. Stop reading now now and GO!