BY ANDREW OKE
This job is getting too hard to do. I go out weekly hoping that I would find a film worthy of high praise so that at least it won’t be said that all I do is bash Nollywood films. I invest time and money and what do I get in return? I get the likes of Entreat.
Do you enjoy watching tonally confusing films with laughable stories, cringe-worthy dialogue and pointless subplots that abandon all forms of reasoning? Are you entertained by terribly underdeveloped and one-dimensional characters that are made even worse by atrocious acting? Do you lay awake at night, thinking of brand new ways to waste your hard earned money? If your answer to all those questions was “yes”, then Entreat is the film for you.
Entreat tells two thematically unrelated stories, and one them takes place within the pages of a screenplay in the film. Yes, you read that right. Film-within-a-film has never been this badly done.
The first story follows Sharon, a business executive, played by an erratic Funlola Aofiyebi-Raimi, who is in a relationship with her subordinate; Tunde, played by the film’s writer/director/producer, Michael Asuelime. The two get into a fight after a night out when Sharon decides to pay for their meal, hurting the pride of her “man”. Tunde is offended by this gesture so much that he doesn’t come in to work for three days, prompting Sharon to visit him at home. Alone in Tunde’s home, Sharon finds and reads a screenplay that he’s been working on. She’s so impressed by the overwhelming brilliance of the screenplay that she apologizes to Tunde for undermining his manhood and promises to get his script made into a feature film.
Are you still following?
The second story is found within the almighty, ingenious screenplay written by the character played by the writer of the actual movie. Can you say self-fellatio? The story follows two friends, Charles and Michael, played by Bryan Okwara and Alexx Ekubo respectively, even though I suspect both characters could’ve been played by a pair of lawn chairs and no one would spot the difference. Charles is a neglectful single father that for some reason, I am supposed to sympathize with; while Michael is a man who wants to leave the mother of his child for an ex-lover and for some reason, I am supposed to sympathise with him as well.
Charles’ wife dies at childbirth, leaving him to take care of his daughter on his own. You would think that this story would be about a man and his daughter, don’t you? Well, think again, because both of them only share the screen in one scene and their story is completely missing from the film for an entire hour after said scene.
Michael breaks up with the mother of his child to pursue the affection of an ex-lover played by Dakore Egbuson, who holds a deep, but ultimately pointless secret that doesn’t drive the story in any way.
With stories this mind boggling, it comes as no surprise that Entreat ends up being a disaster of a movie. The film has no theme, no direction, no real purpose and at the base of it all, is about nothing. It is a combination of three sloppily crafted stories, each of which has no semblance of a structured plot.
In Entreat, no attention whatsoever is given to the development of characters. Every single character turns out to be an interchangeable, one-dimensional cardboard cut-out with no clear motivations and no distinct attributes or qualities, which begs the questions: are there any real characters in this film at all?
Added to that is the profusion of terrible acting performances by each and every member of cast save for Osas Ajibade. She is in the film for a very short period of time and her character was very obviously shoehorned into the film for reasons unknown, but her performance still stands out as the only redeeming quality of this so called film. Finding something else truly redeeming to say about this film is like finding something encouraging to say to your child when she comes home with straight Fs. “Well, at least they gave you a grade.”
For a film this awful, you would think that it would at least end quickly in order to shorten the extent of the torture, but no; Entreat is an hour and fifty-six minutes long, lengthened by pointless subplots, unnecessarily stretched out scenes and whole scenes that should have ended up on the cutting room floor. Case in point: there is a five-minute scene where Charles’ (Bryan Okwara’s) daughter’s teacher, played by non-actor Zainab Balogun, is performing at a lounge and having a flashback of a scene that happened less than a minute before this scene. The scene looked more like an avenue for Zainab Balogun to showcase her very average singing and poetry skills.
Entreat is, in my opinion, the worst film that has hit Nigerian cinemas this year and it’s writer/director/producer/star Michael Asuelime, AKA The Nigerian Tommy Wiseau, should be proud of himself since he clearly did everything he possibly could to make it so.