BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
The Mo Abudu’s executively-produced flick is arguably one of the most anticipated Nollywood movies of the year. A countdown to its December 18 release in cinemas had many oohing and aahing in keenness. Did Fifty fall short? It’s not too hard to tell.
Fifty starts out rather slowly as the characters are being introduced scene after scene, and one isn’t able to make a connection until dialogue begins. Call it an attempt at suspense, and you’d probably be okay. But it doesn’t take too long before you begin to ask if it is an actual movie, or a showcase of roads and gigantic structures.
It tells a story of four women whose lives are intertwined, yet individually unique. Tola (Dakore Egbuson) owns her own reality show where she flaunts her fabulous life in people’s faces. Elizabeth (Ireti Doyle) is an obstetrician with an estranged daughter and a rather juvenile lover. Kate (Nse Ekpe-Etim) is a party planner battling cancer and an unemployed husband, and Maria (Omoni Oboli) works in a construction company, has a maid and flourishes in adultery.
It doesn’t immediately draw you in, especially with the seeming exaggeration of the ages of the lead characters. Every scene is welcomed by a flash of the Lekki-Ikoyi bridge, and by the time you’re halfway through the movie, it begins to get old. The idea that someone is trying so hard to portray Africa in a certain positive light isn’t lost on you. This could be a good transformation from the terrible image of Lagos we see on screens , but could it also have been a rather monotonous and maybe flattering showcase?
The pacing of the movie picks up somewhere in the middle when an actual conflict begins; Tola’s quest to discover who her husband’s mistress is. The revelation of this, and the general story surrounding Tola is what gives the movie some sort of life, and a whole plot to take home. Emmanuel Ikubese, who plays the role of the juvenile lover, conquers new frontiers of nudity in Nollywood culture. A prior warning would have been fair to us, seeing we brought our teens to come behold Africa like never before seen. The question of why he would go that far, and how the scene adds to the story is one we would never know. Or how Elizabeth taking off her panties right before the camera would have given the movie some form of depth.
Fifty gets props for its star-studding. Many top guns are featured, even for minute one-scene roles, in a bid to guarantee peak performances. As expected, they do not disappoint. There’s an avalanche of musical stars too, which is applaudable, seeing it showcases some of the best voices in the Nigerian music scene without necessarily throwing them in our faces. Fifty is rounded, cutting across the nagging issues facing women of all ages and offering options on how to deal with them. However, there are many questions left unanswered. Like why Maria, would suddenly get back really quickly, the acceptance of her friends for her act of adultery or why Elizabeth’s estranged daughter would so easily forgive her mother as implied, after showing incessantly that she would have nothing to do with her. We would never understand why Tola’s mother looks like she’s the one who’s fifty, and why Tola looks thirty but claims fifty. We probably will also never find answers to why Uncle Wale Ojo’s character seemed to want to woo all the friends before finally settling on one, or why Omoni’s reactions towards her pregnancy are as complacent as they seem in spite of her stated aversion towards having babies. As is the case with most, Fifty isn’t a perfect movie.
That said, Fifty is a brilliant attempt. Biyi Bandele gives a commendable effort at creating vivid images in his direction that would stick in our minds for a long long time. The sound is great and the picture is topnotch. The scripting, not all that (the cheesiness of a line like ‘Money is not my problem, but how to spend it’ hits us right in the face like a boxer’s blow.) The costuming is gorgeous, and if you, for some reason, are wondering if Fifty falls short of the hype, go to a cinema and find out for yourself. You might even want to get an extra ticket for a friend.