Film Review: Oloture


I also wrote a different review in Pidgin English, Click here to read.

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Nollywood is not lacking of good directors. Nor are they out of good stories – unlike their first world counterparts, they’ve barely scratched the surface. What they’ve lacked is decent execution. Kenneth Gyang is a very methodical man. In a Nollywood riddled with drone shots and larger-than-life actors who swallow all of a screen’s essence with their monologues, Gyang lets the camera tell the story. The opening four minute one-shot sequence that takes us in and around a night club to expose the frolickings of sex workers and their customers stamps his control on a tale we thought we knew too well.

Oloture is a film that dives deep into the world of human trafficking and the prostitution ring in Nigeria, and an undercover reporter’s journey to exposing them.

I truly hope the Nigerian audience, as much as this film is for everyone beyond our borders, understand what type of film this is. I can’t tell if the film did a good enough job at bringing viewers’ attention to the fact that Oloture isn’t mere entertainment but an exposé on social ills in Africa’s most populous nation. The constant chanting of “there has to be a sequel” shows that Oloture is either ahead of its time or Gyang and his amazing crew overestimated the readiness of Nigerians for a serious social commentary. Here’s my contribution to this mission: Oloture is not a complete thought because it was never about Oloture. It’s about how people of this country have positioned themselves to think they deserve to be abused (will discuss Chuks and Blessing dynamic in a bit), how politicians and powerful men & women can still get away with anything and how under our noses, sex trafficking grew into a million dollar industry and we’re still not doing anything about it.

The blame can go round though: The titular character, Oloture (played by Sharon Ooja), whose undercover identity is Ehi, has probably seen the wrong Hollywood films as she’s categorically unprepared to do what undercovers do or protect herself when push comes to shove. She constantly finds lame excuses to avoid doing the things she hoped to save thousands of girls from going through and it’s a wonder she lasted that long. This heroine isn’t flawed, she’s poorly developed. Which puts the film’s endgame in jeopardy? Are we supposed to pity undercover journalists or sex workers? If it’s the former, what’s Oloture’s motivation to risking her life and that of others for a story? What was her backup plan if things went sideways? Was she aware of how dangerous her mission was?

The vintage setting and afro music have always gone hand in hand. But it also makes the nudity tolerable. Oloture is visceral. Deliberately R-Rated. Could this film have been made with less nudity and retain a PG-13 status? Maybe. Infact, yes. But Gyang’s selective nudity is defendable. After deleting my defense three times, because I don’t want to assume we both saw it as symbolic, you’re gonna have to ask him yourself if it bothered you.

The choice of pidgin as the film’s predominant language is spectacular. You can poke out errors from each character’s pidgin from now till tomorrow but the accuracy was deliberately tonned down for understanding. If that doesn’t impress you, maybe the actors will.

Ikechukwu’s turn as washed out pimp, Chuks, is a fresh take on Nollywood Villains. The performance is stirring. The number of rappers who’ve been playing impressive bad guys these days are increasing. Ikechukwu joins Illbliss and Reminisce and he’s just as nuanced and charismatically cruel. His girl, Blessing, is the heart of Oloture. As one of the few girls who still has a pimp, Blessing misses out on all the benefits that modernity has provided her world. And on top of that, she’s constantly wounded by her master who’ll do anything to keep her under his control instead of focusing on how to improve both of their lives. Every Nigerian is Blessing and that story doesn’t end well.

This is a film I’ll recommend to all non-Nigerians seeking to know more about us and are tired of seeing the rich extravagant side that’s been on repeat in our movies in the last couple of years. It’s laced with our unofficial lingua franca and it’s well done. Oloture takes a social, and apparently political problem into itself and spits it out the same. At least, it’s shinier this time. And I love it.

7/10

I also wrote a different review in Pidgin English, Click here to read.

Okiki Adeduyite

One thought on “Film Review: Oloture

  1. […] I bin also write this review for English o, if you wan read am, click here. […]

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