By Ben Adenle
Mo Abudu’s EbonyLife TV prunes its own vine with Nollywood’s first Netlix Original, which relays exactly, the advantage that streaming services were created to afford. Blood Sisters, the Africa-seated piece that became top ten rated in over 30 countries within the first week of release, is a respectable presentation from a perspective that departs from the deeply-rooted western culture – well knitted African tradition and civilization. It offers yet another wave to Netflix’s expansionist and exploratory viewports of our world through diversified storytelling.
Blood Sister, a four-part series, is a perfect bite-sized binge offering with a running time of under four hours. The film is a slow burn but you get quickly unfolded into the worlds of its characters by way of dialogue rather than action. Once settled in with the initial flux of ideas around the centrality of the character set, you are thrown into the adventure of mystery, climax and anti-climaxes that make the show stickily.
Plot-wise, Sarah (Ini Dima-Okojie) and Kemi (Nancy Isime) are two best friends on the run after Kemi accidental shot Sarah’s powerful pharmaceutical CEO fiancé Kola (Deyemi Okanlawon) to save her life-long friend from being strangulated by Kola. As Sarah and Kemi go deeper into the sordid underbelly of Lagos and start to lose more and more of themselves, they are chased on all sides by the law, Kola’s affluent family, and some other interested parties.
The first episode opens with a somewhat confusing plot – a gregarious wedding party, highlighting the Nigerian culture of ostentatious affluence as often explored by most EbonyLife TV’s big hits. One would prejudicially summarize the show to be the stereotypical story of Nigeria’s social dichotomy and classism. But in a rapid twist that characterize the entire film, it goes on to explore the themes of domestic violence, sexual assault, and female empowerment – topics often ignored in Nigerian films and television.
The voyage in Blood Sisters is exhilarating. You’ll get sucked in from the first episode. The following two episodes are slower-paced, focusing more on character development and backstory than on plot. It goes on to establish a thick network of individuals whose familial, platonic, and romantic ties appear to have grown naturally out of this tight-knit society, with an interesting play of sharp conundrums. We find ourselves laughing at an impromptu dinner speech one second and shuddering at spousal abuse the next in the early scenes. The goal is to quickly and vividly weave together a drapery of viewpoints and characters that all serve to inform even more mystery.
Blood Sisters has a fantastic cast and gorgeous visuals. There are numerous breathtaking vistas of Lagos throughout the film, which has stunning cinematography. For one, you get not to see the rife sight and sound of highbrow areas of Lagos, it detours to explore the views of its ghetto and suburbs so well that you quickly appreciate the literal size of Africa’s most populous city. For those who know Nollywood so well, it’s rather appalling that her biggest actors got rather unusual roles, even ‘waka pass’ (single scene unimportant feature) in some cases. Imagine a big A-lister like Toyin Aimakhu doing a 2-minutes feature and legendary Ramsey Noah shadowing in a body guard role! Unbelievable spend of the best of Nollywood all the down. Even more outrageous is the end of the fourth episode, where most of the cast have been exhausted and one is left to wonder what else is there to see in future episodes. That’s the height of suspense.
Co-directed by two of Nollywood’s most experienced directors, Bibandele and Kenneth Gyang, Blood Sisters did justice to character assembly and theme explication. Bandere’s first two episodes established a central figure, fueled incidents and plight, aptly setting the plot for Gyang’s last two episodes, which amplified the variables of the crisis, broke the attention into subplots and ended with a resolution of the ambiguities.
Sarah and Kemi’s brawl with Uncle B in a shanty, hijacking of Denrele’s car and vicious trip to Epe area of Lagos. Filled with lots of feather-weight actions and beautiful sprinkle of ‘Sisromance’. The story comes home each time Kemi drops the pidgin lines and one but can appreciate the exquisiteness of diversity and the auspicious mutability of language and culture.
Timeyin (Genoveva Umeh) was a great spotlight. Her time at the rehab, pulsating scuttles with fellow degenerates, stack-naked bath time (alien to Nollywood style), stint of the Prison Break shenanigans, were all on a high.
As with most Nollywood’s attempt at actioners, the choreographic delivery of the fight and tussle scenes still fell below international standards. One is quickly awakened to the fact that this is after all, a movie and this is Nollywood! In modern film production the audience is often teleported to the plot and engaged in total derealization. This wasn’t it for Blood Sisters.
Blood Sisters is arguably Nollywood’s best so far in terms of casting, cinematography, directing, screenwriting and general production quality. It seems to advance the success of Blood and Waters, South African teen crime drama television series developed by Gambit Films for Netflix, that was a global hit in 2020. Blood Sister is a further statement that African series have come to corner competitive space in the global hunt for variant storytelling and cultural bilocation.
Brotherhood: Nigerian prisons, the postgraduate school of criminality (Review)
They have been numerous testimonies of the life behind the walls of Nigerian prisons. Beyond the common understanding of its inhuman state, records have shown that a lot of the inmates somehow find their way back to crime and back there. Findings establish that innocent individuals, from those who had a stint with crime to the downright hardened criminal, often become worse after a Nigerian prison experience. It’s safe to infer that the prison that ought to be a correctional facility has become an instructional facility for the advancement of crime and criminality – a sort of postgraduate school.
Jade Osiberu and Abdul Tijani-Ahmed’s story dubbed in Greoh Studios’ latest release, Brotherhood, captures the reality and eventualities of this failure of the government to put our prisons in shape.
Brotherhood is a crime and action movie produced by Jade Osiberu, and released for screening across Nigerian cinemas on the 23rd of September, 2022. The movie ensemble top Nollywood, Nigerian music, comedy stars, and an array of ex-Bigbrother Naija housemates in what seemed like a BBNaija reunion. The cast includes Toni Tones, Jide Kene Achufusi, OC Ukeje, Mercy Aigbe, Bright ‘Basket Mouth’ Okpocha, Zubby Micheal, Ronke Oshodi Oke, Sam Dede, Deyemi Okanlawon, Comedians Basketmouth and Adebowale ‘Mr Macroni’ Adedayo, musical superstars, Folarin ‘Falz’ Falana and Omawunmi. The BBNaija HM ensemble includes Tobi Bakre, Diane Russet, Seyi Awolowo, Dorathy Bachor and Boma Akpore.
The film was directed by the super talented filmmaker from Uganda, Loukman Ali, who is making his Nigerian directorial debut with Brotherhood movie.
Loukman Ali has a couple of films he has directed inclusive of: The Girl in the Yellow Jumper, The Blind Date and The Bad Mexican.
Summary of the Story
Brotherhood centres on the dichotomous life of twin brothers- Wale (played by Falz) and Akin (played by Tobi Bakre), who were thrown into the ‘trenches’ at a very young age when their parents were killed on New Year’s day. Their parents were making their way home from the traditional crossover service that had been held in church.
As orphans without any extended family support, the two young boys are caught in the menacing world of Lagos streets. Trying to survive meant they had to find whatever means to make ends meet. Soon, time on the streets honed their skills in a plethora of social vices with Akin leading his brother on the dire path of ruthless survival.
Akin would later go to jail for stealing anti-malaria drugs when Wale got very sick. That becomes a pattern in his life as he gets more desperate, trumping society in his fraught search for a life without lack. Wale, on the other hand, charted a different path outside crime and soon joins the police force to achieve his dream of fighting crime, motivated by the circumstances surrounding the death of their parents.
The contradiction in the chosen life paths of the brothers so strains their relationship and brews tension amongst them that they became each other’s nemesis, albeit still very much concerned about each other’s welfare.
Akin for the umpteenth time got out of jail with a sworn resolve never to return, but would somehow get reunited with an old friend (‘Cobra’, played by OC Ukeje) from the early years of petty street crimes. Cobra introduces him to the deadliest robbery gang in town, the Ojuju Boys and with Akin’s intelligent criminal mind, a grand heist plan that he and another inmate acquaintance back in jail had nursed was soon hatched. Wale ironically, gets admitted into an elite police squad that handles the toughest crimes. Soon the brothers, the best at their chosen career paths are made to face each other in a battle of good against evil, yet connected in their hearts by the bond of brotherhood.
Analysis of Plot Elements
Akin is the protagonist of the story, who hoped to beat life to the frailties of lack at all costs. He assumed he could snatch out fortunes from high society without necessarily causing any casualty. Akin’s exposure to the dark world of crime had not taken is pure respect for the sanctity of life out of him. His grand play was to make one big heist and retire to a crimeless life with newfound love. Akin’s purpose was to hit up, clean up, and move up the ladder without the recompense for his actions.
Akin’s twin, Wale, is the antagonist of the story, whose sole purpose was to ensure criminals get the consequences of their actions in the hand of the law. Though Wale has built a strong character for achieving his dreams in the build-up to the climax of the story, his hitherto stealth history with his criminal twin-brother becomes a wound when he finds love in the arms of the daughter of the elite squad’s ‘supercop’ leader.
The plot easily introduces the protagonist and the antagonist in the first few minutes into the film, setting up a strong personality distinction that can be followed throughout the film. As Akin’s purpose attracted all its propellers, Wale’s too got a graceful build-up. The progress of the brothers in their divergent paths formed the rising actions, each character acquiring formal and romantic relationships along the way to a head-on collision.
The story hits a crescendo when Akin’s gang wanted to double down on their earlier success of jerking a bullion van with a double, same-day robbery of two more bullion vans. This time on low intel, which Akin questioned and used as an alibi to ditch the gang and their plan. Akin’s soft forwarding toward his new girlfriend and the gang’s only female member brought him back into the disaster-bound plan. Just at this point, Akin had erroneously killed Wale’s father-in-law in self-defence during the first of the planned same-day twin robbery. The SWAT team and now his brother knowing he was part of the robbery that killed his father-in-law, are out for a vengeful and brutal attack when the radio came about the ongoing second robbery attempt.
The story begins to wind down as the various other characters within the gang got killed and the most vicious, Cobra, grassed everyone right at the heart of the deadly robbery and made away with the money, leaving them to their death.
The final moments of the story saw the brothers face each other in a gun duel, albeit Wale sorted to safely disarm Akin, his colleagues couldn’t let him go without a hit. As Akin falls into the lagoon from the top of bridge with bullet injuries, the plot’s closure was left open-ended, until it is revealed that he magically survived, recovered the stolen monies from Cobra, and eloped to live his dream.
Analysis of Creative Elements
Though the story is not entirely unique, the fine details and detour of the script make it worth viewers time and money. When to come to the nuances and how everything connects, it is brilliant storytelling as captured by the scriptwriter and interpreted by the movie’s director, Loukman Ali. For example, how Akin’s plan was conceived from a conversation with a fellow inmate at the prison, got human resources from a vicious gang who had come to rob him only for the leader to be his old friend, the connect with Sanusi (played by Boma), the ex-military arm dealer, all but galvanized the perfect spotlight on the security mess of the nation.
Also, the smart use of dispatch bikes as the courier for monies gotten at the robbery spot and eventual transloading into Eko Meat Van to obfuscate the loot trail sets the story up for an interesting viewers’ journey.
The dialogues too are rich, though on some occasions I failed to take the last leap to hitting the ‘quotable’ threshold. An instance is the scene where Cobra introduces Akin to Shadow (the secret head of the Ojuju Boys gang). Akin while downloading his grand plan to rob bullion vans to Shadow went with a ‘following my gist’ check in street parlance, “Shey you de visualize my plan, boss?”. Shadow replied trying to express skepticism for the too risky venture Akin had painted, “I no de visualize you plan o”. That line too bland for that atmosphere. The dialogue could have been taken a notch higher with a touch on comedy with, “No I no the visualize your plan, na your death I de visualize”.
Casting and Characterization
The casting director played a smart one with the array of stars culled from three showbiz sectors of movie, music, and comedy. Africans are always waiting to see how their favourite BBNaija housemates progress in life. Bringing five hot ones from three years editions is a genius one to command viewership from their broad audience.
Tobi Bakre showed with this project that he has honed his acting skills. The characterization of the protagonist character was not only excellent but very commendable. Roleplaying an action figure takes a little work. He must have had months of preparation, physical fitness training, gun handling, etc., Tobi was at his very best and can be credited for the great output of the movie in terms of characterization. The highlight was when he fell from the top of the bridge into the lagoon. Judging by the technical details that was really an about hundred kilos man plunging down over 200m.
Falz, though delivered on most fronts, was not quite a good fit for the lover boy role. Perhaps the stereotype of him be unserious just ‘colloquialized’ his serious, romantic heart-to-heart conversionations. His kiss with Kamsi (played by Dorathy BBNaija) was so real. Then, he goes to ask for her hand in marriage with a piece of thread spurned around her hand. The magic of that scene would have happened only if Falz wasn’t coming across as unserious.
Bringing back the Isakaba legend, Sam Dede as the head of SWAT is yet another brilliant call of the casting director. Of course, Sam delivered a five-star characterization.
The only obvious fail with the casting is Mr Macroni. He struggled all through to portray the personality of a hardened criminal. His facial expressions were alien to the expected emotions in most scenes. It was too obvious that he was trying too hard to look hard.
OC Ukeje, Ronke Oshodi Oke, Zubby Micheal, Omawunmi also did quite well.
Loukman Ali once again delivered on this one. The 2021 winner of the Best Short Film at the Uganda Film Festival and nominee for 2021 Best Short Film, at Durban International Film Festival brought out his best in the Directing and Cinematography of this film. Loukman’s input will be the best creative piece in this film. The shots are a beautiful work of art. The use of natural light, professional lights, angles, ambience, and props are excellent transitions are only the sort of things you can expect from a talented director of photography. Some intriguing scenes are the point where Akin is photographed from the ceiling with all the muscle and distortions of a ghetto set, and the next thing is a braless girl holding up a gun to his head. Then the scene where Akin shows up at the loot pick-up point after he fell into the lagoon, all to the shock of Cobra, the traitor. This scene was a perfect reenact of a typical John Wick scene. Scare light in a deserted remote cottage, double barrel gun in a wounded arm, one shot is fired, and Cobra is pummeled out through the door, body squatted on a green lawn in a brisk moonlight night, the camera zooms up to reveal the entire set of deliberate collections of nature and mother scene, a wow sight is delivered!
The costumes were also on point. The scar on Shadow’s face, the smudging of the gang members’ faces and all the nice selection of crazy appearances.
The sound design/music is not bad, could have been better though. For a Nollywood attempt at action, it’s really a job well done. The smashing of tables, kicks, door bursting, gunshots, and night time wizzling, were in sync with the expected emotions the script hoped to play. The best use of sound is the Akin vs Cobra last showdown. Just before the killer shot, Akin goes, “Koni da fun awon to ni e (E no go better for the people wey get you)”, a brief silence, a deafening sound of big gunshot and a perfect action scene sound, that leads the camera out to the ground outside, where Cobra’s corpse laid, and then the pitter-pattering sound of rain, altogether gave this work a perfect ending.
Verdict (4.5 stars)
Overall production quality: 4/5
Tears, despair, snare of Nigeria’s unjust justice system – ‘Inside Life’ Movie Review (3.1)
As at August 2022, about 52,000 out of 74,000 inmates in Nigerian prisoners are waiting many years to be served justice; only 3 out of every 10 people languishing in Nigerian prisons have been convicted. What is more pathetic is the circumstances surrounding how some found themselves behind bars and the agonizing situation of spending years in Nigeria’s shanty prisons. If anything is worse than slave trade, it is the black man’s most populous nation’s snare of despair denominated as justice system.
Lanre Olorunnishola was caught in the trap of Nigeria’s unjust system, wrongfully incarcerated and served the sour taste of a dehumanizing prison experience. Unlike the lot of 90% of such victims, he was fortunate enough to get a chance at life after spending 11 days. He goes on to write a book about his experience (called ‘Prison Notes’) and a friend who’s a veteran TV production guru, Chuks Enete partnered to wax the story for the silver screen as his own debut solo film project.
‘Inside Life’ produced by Siloth Studios and distributed by Silverbird Film Distribution is an adaption of Lanre’s story and laudable spotlight on worthy indignation towards Nigeria’s judiciary. The movie by AIT and Iroko TV-famed filmmaker, Chuks Enete was premiered at the Silverbird Galleria on the 8th of September and released to cinemas across Nigeria on the following day. The film is co-written by the story’s protagonist, Lanre Olorunnishola, and Chuks Enete, directed by Tope Adebayo Salami, edited by Dipo Teniola. The movie casted Wole Ojo, Broda Shaggi, Nnedu of Wazobia FM, Romeo WJ, Tina Mba, Koloman, Belinda Effah, Saka, Ropo Ewenla, and Okey Uzoeshi. Others include MC Benkash, Chukwuka Jude, Jerry Okpan, Jay Hemkay, Zara Udofia Ejoh, Yinka Aiyelokun, Peter Oladeji, Funsho Adeolu, Enechukwu Uche, Ekiti Father and Eric Obinna, while Idowu Adedapo is Director of Photography.
Summary of the Story
A few days before his wedding, Larry (Wole Ojo) is assigned to represent his boss at a court hearing, a prolonged civil dispute with the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSTIF), over Chief’s (Larry’s MD played by Chuks Enete) headstrong refusal to pay his dues to the agency, premised on a rebellion against paying government while he bares the skyrocketing cost of running his business alone. The company’s lawyer (played by Okey Uzoeshi) does not show up and NSTIF’s lawyer (Tina Mba) got the magistrate to wrongfully remand Larry in prison as a lesson to the company for disregarding the court process.
Larry needs to fight for his release for his wedding to his sweetheart fiancée (Belinda Effah), but then, he must learn to survive the dire condition of the prison and come out alive regardless. Larry moves from being a dove in the raft of ducks to flirting with the pangs for survival. His initial ability to gain rare privileges with the prison officials earned him enmity with hitherto protective cell lords, but his ingenious charity to all cellmates soon got him affable attention much that the toughest of the lot (played by Broda Shagi) sort out his help, sharing with him even more distressing stories of his own wrongful imprisonment and total despair.
Analysis of the Plot Elements
The movie begins with an aloof brutal murder scene, blacks out, and transitions to a gothic scene of two lovers waking up to early morning curdle and reminiscence of their ‘bedmatic’ through the night. Within the first minute of the plot’s exposition, one can tell the dichotomous style of the plot.
The story slowly moves from the everyday life of young hardworking hopefuls and sharply turns to the details of life’s capriciousness. Maybe this makes a good reason for naming it Inside Life.
To us at Nollytrailers, we think the writers, perhaps riding on the power of epic storytelling, smartly unfolded the story’s main characters, hinting by dialogue and actions, their personalities, and quickly erupting emotive followership for the audience.
The rising actions were a steady climb towards the climax. Larry moves from being a fine eligible bachelor, high-profile staff of his company, who had just been gifted a huge sum as his MD’s support towards his forthcoming wedding, to a stunned witness in the box in a case he had no clue about, then to a benevolent but angry suspect who had to pay for his own transportation to prison, then to a star inmate who has privileged unrestricted access to the chief warder’s office, and then to a co-parker in the rigour and torture of life in a crowded prison cell, with perhaps no certainty of regaining his freedom anytime soon, since the judge on his case has suddenly collapsed and is incapacitated to hear his case on the next adjournment.
The climax came quite full-stack, comically captured by Dele’s (the president of the prison cell) initial wisdom to Larry, “When jungle don mature, okoro go know where him de”. Larry suffers the same fate as other inmates; external visits stopped and privileges vanished as usual contacts either got transferred or put out of reach by other wardens whom he had earlier spoken to arrogantly when he first got there.
The falling actions go on a sublime decent into the closure, but wisely picturing the story’s theme of the importance of faith and the eventual embrace of the miracle-working potency of praying and believing when all other things fail. Larry’s atheist position soon gets transformed once he recognised that only a miracle can get him off the hooks.
From believing to reforming, Larry’s travail captured all the important steps that leads towards the resolution of the story’s critical matter and a restoration to status quo.
There’s a part of the movie that is brilliantly left for the interpretation of the audience, which leaves an intuitive open end – Larry, while in jail, had a dream that his fiancée was celebrating with the company’s lawyer the success of their evil plan to have him reprimanded by trapping him with the lawyer’s absence from court. The dream meant that his most beloved and trusted human was the mastermind of his tribulations.
The writers never gave a material concession to the substance of this dream and as such left it to the imagination of the audience.
Analysis of Creative Elements
If there is anything that stands out with this movie, it is the powerful story it tells. The writers did an incredible job of interpreting Lanre Oluwanishola’s true life story by setting the entire project mainly on the prison experience. Just that would have likely been a bore to the comedy-loving Nigerian audience, but smartly, the script was spiced up with apt comic relieves.
For instance, there’s a scene where Larry was tearing and condemning religion with the assertion that organized religion was a big scam. He shortly realized painfully a little later that his seemly short imprisonment may become elongated. He turns to Dele to wail, complaining also about the rice that was served the prisoners and asking why not yam instead. The cell’s ‘presido’ hits back at his lack of regard for the power of prayers with sarcasm, “The yam you need to chop now na I am than I am”.
The dialogues are brilliant, funny and well laced with wisdom – able to instruct heavily on the irony of a supposedly blessed nation and the agony of its people. Unlike a lot of works that feature an array of comedy skit makers, this did justice to the effort at sprinkling light-hearted-moments without having unnecessary overtures.
Broda Shagi had a brilliant display of street jokes and ‘agberoism’ that is a prefect reflection of the life in a Nigerian prison. Dele was such a perfect character of a hard but wise cell lord, dropping doses of ghetto wisdom – profound in its depth, but crude and funny in its tone. One noteworthy excerpt is his stump reaction to Larry’s denial of reality, where he encouraged him to eat what was served in prison. In response to Larry’s insistence that he had no appetite, Dele goes “Designer prisoner. You no get appetite ba, no worry jungle go soon mature and you go know say last last Mandela chop Apartheid”.
Quite a rib-cracking joke but also an en explosive dialogue that connects the realities of the unjust justice system of Apartheid South Africa to that of present day Nigeria. It also delves into the projection of the fate of the character who seem too headstrong to embrace the present and will be well on the way to spending a long time in prison if he does not explore the power for miracles.
Casting and Characterization
Most of the actors were in character, though a few would have done better. Chief (The MD) played by the executive producer himself, Chuks Enete, beyond the apt ‘Ogene’ sounds that accentuated his scenes, was short of perfect in roleplaying. There was an obvious effort to fit into the personality of a crude wealthy Igbo businessman. This easily give up the mystery that ought to come with interpreting the role and therefore is below the current industry standard.
Belinda Effah was also not at her best. Her interpretation of a devastated fiancée visiting her partner in jail was short of believability. She acted and sounded like a starter in a drama rehearsal. Watching her, the character’s pain could not be felt, her confusion was not obvious and expected exasperation towards the company was totally silent.
Wole Ojo delivered Larry’s character to the fullest. Every step of the way, there was no emotion, personality or nuances of the character that was not communicated; Larry’s ego was depicted in and off the mic and the personality transformations were well captured in his acting. Kudos!
Brother Shaggi and Nedu did justice to the characters of leading the ‘Ikoyi vs Agege’ strata of the prison; personalities, checked! Dialogue, checked! Actions and reactions, checked!
The casting is also quite good. Love the minor roles of the big names like Tina Mba and Funsho Adeolu. The cast, safe for a few snags, by frame and personality fused perfectly into the plot of the story and delivered quite well its themes.
Directing is but an okay job for this movie. There are obvious issues with the sets, costumes and transitions that ought not to have skipped the calls of Dipo Teniola and Tope Adebayo.
For instance the costume is totally unbelievable! Here are prisoners who have stayed an average of 2 years in jail, all having stylish clean shaves. The dialogue at the chief warden’s office hinted that Larry was going into a 35-man cell, the shots were set in a less than 15-man prison, almost scanty.
Dipo Adedapo may have given his best to this but there are certainly no wow moments from the filming of this movie. It is nothing more than basic shots.
There were efforts to add some creativity through camera techniques but that also fell flat – the filming at a tilted angle combined with shaky panning just didn’t work quite well.
The lighting at the main set also could have been better. In fact, it presented the cinematographer an opportunity to display creativity, given that over 70% of the movie was shot on that set. Nigerian prisons are often quite dark, poorly ventilated with walls riddled with amateurish graffiti. Dapo could have ridden on this to explore tricks like off-subject shots in silhouette or playing creatively with exposure, extra lighting for focus matter or even sunrays-drop background for early morning dialogues, etc.
Tosin Amire, the young FUTA graduate of Applied Mathematics turned sound designer, did a great job on the sound design for this film. The sound in some scenes helped to enliven the poor performance of some acts, like that of Chief (The ‘igbotic’ MD). Though the sound production quality could have been better, but the large-scale original compositions were good and aptly distributed across the movie’s scenes.
The overall production quality is average. This is owing to the less emphasis placed on Directing and Cinematography. This would have easily been a 4 star movie.
Inside Life is easily a high-recommendation movie chiefly because of its powerful story, theme and overall message to the nation. It is also a good pick for a couple’s date night (would have been great for a family was it not for the few scenes of gunshots). You will be sure to really get cracked up seeing this movie.
Hit the cinemas to see for yourselves, better with company though, you don’t want to deal with laughing and falling on a stranger’s shoulders if you are alone. You might just receive sneer or slap. In the words of Broda Shagi in the film, “Who de microwave liver for you?”
Ayefele turns prophet in Bayo Kaakaki’s tepid new work, Rubicon (Review)
Rubicon is a movie set in the ancient city of Ibadan, produced by Starkingdom Productions and an initiative broadcaster Dr. Adebayo Faleke of Fresh FM Nigeria. The drama with dialogue entirely in Yoruba but well subtitled in English was produced in 2021 but released to the cinemas across Nigeria on the 12th of August 2022.
Adebayo Faleke who doubled as the main cast and the producer is no doubt living up to the billing as a multi-talented communicator. He only a few years ago authored a book: Dilemmas of a Country.
Before then, he had launched National Cake and Banana Republic, audiovisual records that exposed the mismanagement of so-called leaders in Nigeria.
In a press conference before the release of Rubicon, Dr Faleke once again hinged his inspiration for this new work on the need to “…inspire the people to do the needful in order to correct the mistakes of the past which include vote selling, conscience selling, corrupt practices and other political anomalies” as Nigeria’s general election draws close.
Bayo O or Bayo Kaakaki, as fondly called, is a brilliant Yoruba newscaster and entertainer whose impact in the Ibadan radio industry is undisputed. The director on the set of Rubicon is Ade Idris Jerry, a fast-growing director often adjudged to possess a good sense of interpreting scripts in unique and different ways.
Rubicon assembles A-list actors, entertainers, and broadcasters in what seems more like the marriage of the best of new and traditional media. Among these are Yoruba movie-industry-famed actors like Akin Lewis, Saidi Balogun, Taiwo Ibikunle, Awoyemi Bukola (AKA Arugba); comic acts and skit makers, Debo ‘Mr Macaroni’ Adedayo, Ayo Ayewole ‘Woli Agba’, and superstar music maestro and media investor, Yinka Ayefele, who also is Dr Faleke’s boss. Ace broadcasters like Kola Olootu and Alhaji Abolade Salami also had short but vital roles in this projected.
Summary of the story
Rubicon (Agbedemeji) follows the story of Adesola Adigun (Dr Faleke) a famous OAP with high moral standards and principles that sees him undermine his basic livelihood and personal safety to hang on to his beliefs when caught up between accepting a life-transforming publicity deal from a corrupt politician and facing rejection consequences. Adigun’s wife, played by Awoyemi Bukola had just moved out and separated from him after numerous arguments about his inability to meet with bare necessities despite the numerous opportunities available to him to enrich himself with his fame.
Adigun’s integrity is further tested when Dr Tayo (played by Richardo Agbor) who was just appointed as Senator Ipadeola’s political strategist in the build up to the gubernatorial elections, proposed using him as leverage to win the love of the masses. The management of Kaakaki FM and Adigun were approached with an outrageous offer that would turn everyone involved into millionaires, but Adigun’s outright refusal soon precipitated pressures from his boss, the General Manager of the station, played by Saidi Balogun. After several attempts to put Adigun ‘on the side of reason’, the GM fired him for his indiscretion, and Adigun after some short period of joblessness took his childhood friend and industry colleague, Debo (Mr Macaroni)’s advice, approached a bigger radio station, Fresh FM with the backing of some brands to reinstate his popular radio show.
While Adigun’s alternative to “selling a black market”, in the manner of corrupt Senator Ipadeola seemed to have calmed the storm in his life, he’s soon faced with the threat of his own dirty past coming public and discrediting his new posture of uprightness. Adigun goes on to take a brazen ‘tell all’ stand during his live show and by that irked his now inimical suitor, Senator Ipadeola. Adigun is shortly after arrested for possessing an unregistered rifle and stands with the fate of most poor, ‘unconnected’ masses who ever dared to contend with the powerful few of Nigeria.
Analyses of plot elements
Nothing about this movie is new to Nollywood storytelling. The themes of love, betrayal, and triumph are typical of any script dating back to the earliest years of filmmaking in the 1950s. The plot, therefore, has no significant impact on the viewership journey of moviegoers, who would easily hint at the next scene.
The introduction of the character was rushed up. Within the first few scenes one can tell what everyone was about, without no significant emotional attachment. This is except for the character Mr Macroni played, which the script smartly deployed the ‘hint and tell later’ technique to unveil. The ultimate theme of morality comes straight at you from the start and you can quickly relate with the style of Dr Faleke’s previous projects.
In a similar manner to the exposition element of the plot, the rising action mounts quite quickly and holds the viewers’ to a long wait for the climax, which only comes at the tail-end of the movie.
The falling action is silent and can even be missed, as the writers went for emphasizing the denouement (closure), which is a normal technique in Yoruba storytelling.
Analyses of creative elements
Music and sound design for this work is very poor. It is as low-standard as the lighting, set design, and cinematography. One would wonder how it ever made it to the cinema. This may make reason for how Nollytrailers was the only person in the hall at Viva Cinema, Ikeja when he went to see the movie.
Though the casting is great for marketing, with all the big names across three key sectors of the entertainment and media industries, the fitting of the roles is very questionable. Besides the excellent delivery of Akin Lewis, Mr Macaroni and Arugba, most other major actors, inclusive of the main cast himself, were amateurish.
Wole Agba’s acting was terrible, his costume and make-up, even worse. He looks like a child acting like a 42 or 45 year old elder brother. This is no comedy skit, this movie was purposed for the big screen!
Adigun’s character was not fully explored and the emotive part was poorly executed. For instance, the scene where Adigun was caught by the police and was being interrogated; he obviously wailed without a single tear. Another scene that points to the abysmal roleplaying was when he was at the bar with his friend (Mr Macroni) discussing his predicament and was advised to take the offer from Senator Ipadeola; Dr Faleke was to interpret the character of an enraged Adigun rebuking his friend, but acted more like an indulgent parent scolding a four-year old.
Wole Agba and Dr Faleke’s scene on Adigun’s visit to his supposed wife’s elder brother to beg for his wife’s return was a charade! The attempt at interplaying comedy and pain fell flat on the floor.
Though the story is trite and sometimes outrightly unbelievable – like the assertion by the Political Strategist that Adigun and his fan base can earn Senator Ipadeola 70% of the votes (impracticable in reality), some parts are brilliantly interpreted to earn a niche medal. One of that brilliance is seen in how they played Yinka Ayefele as a prophet without the stereotype of singing in a wheelchair. It is noteworthy also that the entertainer did a good job with the script.
The story’s touch on the menace of upcoming artiste bribing to get their songs played on radio is also a commendable effort to spotlight societal ills. This short cutaway in the movie raises attention to the long-standing debate on copyright infringements between musical artistes and broadcast stations.
Praiseworthy also is the attention on the evil of religious leaders availing themselves as political levers, helping our evil leaders cow the masses. The attempt to ‘enter’ Adigun through his prophet (Yinka Ayefele) by donating to the church project and the bible verses bartering between Adigun and the prophet is a brilliant messaging to the church.
The writers also did well with the twist when Adunni, Adigun’s new housemaid was caught with a bundle of cash while attempting to run away after her boss was caught and detained for having an unregistered rifle. At that moment, you would just roll your eyes, thinking ‘what a bland falling action’, until it turns out that she only stole, she wasn’t the one who planted the gun!
Laudable also was the projection of Adigun’s wife as supportive in the face of tribulation. Despite the fact that they were separated, she fervently prayed for him, held to and propagated the firm belief in her husband’s integrity, and sort out help that eventually got him off the hook.
The final parts of the movie also silently communicated the sad reality of life; that in the constellations of evil, greed, love for bad news and exaggerated rumour mongering in Nigeria, when retribution comes knocking, some evil people will manage to escape. That is the case for Adigun’s colleague at Kakaki FM, who Adigun had found out was taking bribes from musical artistes to play their songs, reported his matter to GM and was allowed to slide because it was a syndicate of bribe-taking the GM himself chaired. The same colleague venomously wrote an exaggerated news report to announce Adigun’s arrest on their station. Well, after Adigun’s triumph over his travesty, reinstatement to Kaakaki FM, and promotion to the position of GM, the very guy was one of those that welcomed him back with a big smile, like nothing ever happened! Smaller bad eggs often survive the tsunami of change.
In the film, there were several attempts to slide in comic reliefs, but failed brutally (Woli Agba was not just delivering). But there’s one scene that will really get you cracking and it is another occasion when Wole Agba and Bukola (Arugba) quarreled over the travail of her husband and her brother’s trivialization of the matter. She was praying when he walks in and mockingly joined her, then she had to reprimand him. After few back and forth ‘jabbing’, Wole Agba goes, “As you were praying I remembered when God called me and I didn’t write down the date, oh, if only I did…now I am seeing angels in this asbestos ceilings…” Lol.
The overall production quality of this movie is far lower than the current industry standard. It falls short in many ways.
Directing, for instance, could have been much better. The director, Ade Jerry, who featured himself was not quite impressive. A lot of the scenes ought to have been reshot. More importantly, the flow of the story is a bit distorted; How do you reconcile that Adigun, who was portrayed as a very homely man, after being told that the wife was behind his release from prison, did not meet and reconcile with her until she suddenly shows up in the last scene, when he was reinstated back and being celebrated at Kakaki FM. This was a typical Yoruba movie way of not leaving anything to the imagination; make sure all doors opened in the course of the story must be closed at the end.
For the few comic reliefs and the important messages in this film, viewers can take a shot at seeing it. Maybe their judgment may be different.
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