I believe it is very important to start off by telling some truths. I am not a writer nor am I a film expert so how I find myself writing a review for a Nollywood film is nothing short of a miracle. Interestingly enough (this is debatable) the last time I watched a Nollywood film was whilst getting my haircut at my local barbers, last weekend, and I recall this one scene where a man’s arm was blown clean off from a slap to his face. Yes! You read correctly – arm blown off because of a slap to the face. It is this type of nonsensical, but highly entertaining, low budget, straight-to-video films that I have grown up to know, and to love, as Nollywood films. However, the film I watched for Film Africa’s Nollywood Nights strand, Gidi Blues – A Lagos Love Story directed by Femi Odugbemi, was so much more. Preamble over, now let me tell you what I think about the film.
I’ll start with the good things about the film – its cinematography is simply breath-taking and whilst watching you cannot help but get a great sense of the rich diversity and vibrancy of the city of Lagos. The set design is so authentic that any Nigerian watching would feel very much at home. Director Odugbemi did say “I wanted to create a film that would give the viewer an honest taste of the rhythms of this eclectic city of a thousand faces and how its ‘fever’ shapes our terms of endearment and love in the belly of its hustle”, and he does so brilliantly with this film. Much praise to the film’s visual production team too.
The film’s storyline is typical to any love story where a Boy/Girl is troubled until they fall in love with Girl/Boy and live happily ever after (damn you Disney!). However, what makes a common story like this is the nuances, but our male protagonist Akin (Gideon Okeke) is not so convincing. He is fast approaching 30 and in Nigerian terms this means he must have good job and wife, but he has neither because he seems happy with his hedonistic – party, booze and ladies – lifestyle. Thus it begs the question – how can he afford this lifestyle without a job? Simple, his mother (Bukky Wright). I can wax lyrical about her all day and still might do her a disservice, but suffice to say that she is brilliant in the film. Moving forward, Akin meets the female protagonist Nkem (Hauwa Allahbura) by doing something very uncharacteristic of an alleged ‘playboy’ – he selflessly retrieves Nkem’s handbag from a thief and henceforth nicknamed ‘Robin Hood’, and as the film progresses we see it is very apt.
I’ve touched on the good (cinematography), the average (storyline), which brings me onto the bad – correction – the ‘what I would have like to see more of’ part. I felt the side characters outshine the male (Akin) and female (Nkem) protagonists and I would certainly have liked to understand their journeys better. We have Simbi (Nkem’s friend) who felt undesirable due to her size and therefore felt the need to catfish; Carmen (the Bishop’s daughter) whose promiscuous nature was shamed in the film, thereby missing a big opportunity to empower female sexuality away from the ‘traditional’ norms; and Jerry (the mob boss) – I wondered, how did he get to that position when he was first introduced as just another ‘area boy’ and truly what made him buy that suit?
We now come to the crux of this review, is Gidi Blues worth seeing? Yes it is.
Buy tickets to see the European Premiere of Gidi Blues – A Lagos Love Story
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Ade Bamgbala is a jack of some trades (public speaker, workshop facilitator, blogger) and a master of one – digital marketing (currently working for Google). He is the founder of Blacticulate – a podcast series featuring young UK Black professionals on what they do and more specifically how they do it so you can, too. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and @Blacticulate (across all social media).