A lighthearted and hilarious take on the pain of the modern day Nigerian woman without making an enemy of anyone. Everyone should be happy!
FINALLY, Nollywood is beginning to wake up from her slumber and after last night, I can proudly hold my head high and say ‘Well done Nollywood’!
For years, like a seasoned breeding mare, the Nigerian movie industry has churned out all manner of atrocities and ridiculousness all in the name of making movies for two major reasons;
People didn’t know better and even after they did, the majority of the populace were still content to expect the usual. More like a case of half banana is better than groundnut which could be translated to mean ‘a bad movie is better than no movie’.
But now we know and expect better and although it took a few years of feet shuffling and in some cases, spiritual intervention in the form of fasting and prayer (Nigerians can be very religious on any matter. ANY!), the movie moguls have finally heard our cry.
ISOKEN is a big step in the right direction, one I can confidently recommend to my non-Nigerian friends. The story is told in a friendly and relatable way that would make most people say “oh yeah, that’s me” and unlike your typical Nollywood movie, there is no villain but it still works (witches need vacations too I suppose).
The movie opens at a wedding reception where we are quickly introduced to Isoken, a 34-year-old working class lady played by the gorgeous Dakore Akande. We are also quickly made aware of her bane – finding a husband before her family hounds her to death. The rest of the story is about Isoken’s journey from zero to a plus one. Dakore shines onscreen like she never left.
The casting was almost on point with all but a few exceptions. For a millionaire male lead, Osaze played by Joseph Benjamin leaves no lasting impression. Some of his lines such as ‘beautiful women should be waited on’ were so cheesy I felt sorry for him. His casting and feeble lines made it easier to root for the other guy, Kevin played by British actor Marc Rhys. The other casting flaw was Joke played by Damilola Adegbite. Whatever her role was, it was definitely lost in translation. Kukua played by Lydia Forson was average as the encouraging friend.
Funky Adele a.k.a ‘Jenifa’ as Agnes, the realistic and fiery friend was an absolute delight to watch. She oozed with confidence and owned her screen space. Above all, she was hilarious in typical Naija style. She did not disappoint. Tina Mba who played mama Isoken deserves some mention too in her role.
Scripting by Jadesola Osiberu could have done with a little more depth but for a step in the right direction, we can’t complain. What makes the story of ISOKEN special is the interracial love triangle in which for the first time in the history of Nollywood movies, everyone (fine! Most people) was rooting for the white ‘oyinbo’ guy.
There is one obvious Achilles heels in this jolly ride though – a lot of the comedy would be lost on a non-Nigerian crowd. However, considering the movie is in English, you can be certain to find your way back to the topic being discussed sooner or later.
Oh! The background music is a major highlight for this movie! Nothing like some good ‘ole high-life tunes to rock your nostalgic boat, seasoned with some current beats. My heart did beat for the motherland.
ISOKEN wins for two main reasons:
a. It is an unabashed reflection of the Nigerian society.
b. It challenges the norm. In a society where the life of the girl child is scripted before she is conceived, ISOKEN challenges everyone to be their unique self.
And we are challenged.
My verdict: 4 STARS
Photo 1 credit: http://www.odeon.co.uk/films/isoken/17377/