BY ANDREW OKE
There are amazing movies that stick with you after you leave the cinema and wipe the popcorn of your jeans. Those movies that make you lean forward in your seat, widen your eyes and shout “AH!!!” Those movies provide shocks and moments that are able to put you in the minds of its characters and take you all the way aback. Robert O. Peters’ Affairs of the Heart is, without a shadow of a doubt, not one of those movies.
Affairs of the Heart follows a single forty-something-year-old Nigerian woman; Vivian, who is played by Stella Damasus. She has made a life for herself as a successful doctor in the U.S. On a 5-day trip to Nigeria, she meets Eric, played by Joseph Benjamin, who she believes to be the love of her life and has now brought him stateside to be with her and to be bound in holy matrimony. He seems like a perfect guy, but beneath the surface he’s hiding a deep, dark secret. Vivian’s friends have their reservations about her new beau and make them known to her, but she doesn’t listen to them. Over time, of course, he proves them right.
I feel a little bad, because that synopsis makes the film out to be a lot more exciting and entertaining than it really is and I don’t like misleading folks. In reality, Affairs of the Heart is a boring slow-paced film that had all the potential in the world to be really good, but does everything within its powers to be exactly what it is; a snoozefest.
The film lets me down right off the bat when the first few scenes revealed to me how the film would end. From then on it was one unnecessary reveal after another. That’s the biggest problem that this film has: it gave the audience big reveals and big “AH!!!” moments way too early and before they even mattered to both the audience and the characters. So we, the audience, basically had to wait through an hour and a half of film just to see the characters realize what we were already shown an hour before. For the sake of keeping this review as spoiler-free as possible, I won’t specifically state which moments came prematurely, but I will say they are most important moments in the entire film. Imagine if you found out that Ramsey Nouah was the killer in The Figurine ten minutes into the movie. That’s how bad these reveals are.
As is the case with many Nigerian films out there today, the problem with the film is not exactly the story. The problem is with the execution of that story. Put in better hands, this film would have been a whole lot better and this review would have been completely different. The story seemed like it was stretched extensively for it to reach the end credits. A number of scenes seemed repetitive and others did nothing to move the story forward. It seemed like they were in the movie solely for the sake of it. The stretching of the story negatively affected the pacing of the film and led to a few of my fellow cinema goers to ask the projectionist to “fast forward” the movie.
The tail end of the movie is particularly annoying, mostly because it presents a classic Stella Damasus crying montage in which she cries in what looks to be every room in her home and an extremely strange resolution at the very end of the movie, where we are forced to believe that the film is really about woman empowerment. News Flash: It’s not.
The acting performances in the film were actually pretty good, especially Stella Damasus’. I was so surprised that even Joseph “I’m a fine boy” Benjamin delivered. The only acting performance that I can say was cringe worthy was Beverly Naya’s, which was not very surprising being that she is Beverly Naya and I’ve come to expect nothing more than the worst from her every time I see her on screen. Thankfully, her screen time was very limited.
A movie is like a round of sex. You want to work your way up to the climax. You don’t want to get there right at the beginning. If you do, you’ll spend the rest of the next few minutes bored and limp. That’s exactly how this movie felt; limp. You can’t leave the audience with nothing to look forward to and that is exactly what Affairs of the Heart did for me.