BY TOLA WILLIAMS
When I overheard someone say, “Taxi Driver was getting as much buzz as the new bond movie”, I screamed YES! This was really positive feedback giving the level of marketing that has been deployed prior to the release. At the very least, it won’t be just the usual 5 people in the hall this time, I hoped.
So, Monday night, I turned up at FilmHouse Cinema in Surulere to catch the 9:05 show and was expecting a handful of people to dare this movie with…alas, I counted not many. Did I let this obvious fact dissuade me from my quest? For where! I focused my attention of the screen currently looping the trailer and reassured myself that Oko Ashewo will be a winner.
Thus, the moment arrived, all FIVE of us in hall, letting go of all biases and fear of disappointment …
Taxi Driver began as a simple story about an Ibadan boy (this character has never been to Lagos) who arrives Lagos to inherit his father’s taxi. And that is the much I got from the movie. I am currently hunting for the individuals responsible for the rest of the confusion that became the film. Where’s the Mr. Writer that did this? I will, at this point assume the role of the devil’s advocate and argue that the Producer and Director (the other wanted individuals) must have butchered the story in production. Gaskiya, this has to be the only scenario that explains what I saw! And to prove this, said writer should please furnish us with the original screenplay.
Until this evidence becomes public knowledge, I am going to attempt to decipher what I was subjected to. For starters, this was a Yoruba movie that was nothing like ‘a Yoruba movie’. At first, I thought…hmmm, ok, this must be an attempt at spicing the movie with, you know, some indigenous flavor; make the actors speak Yoruba, locate the story world in Eko and generally put the whole thing in proper context…sadly this was not the case. It was 98% Yoruba. This was a Yoruba movie. And that’s not a bad thing, if the promoters had simply said so!
To make matters worse, the film is subtitled in pidgin, yes, PIDGIN ENGLISH! As in!!! So, if you don’t understand Yoruba and can’t read pidgin, OYO is your case.
This Oyo boy comes to Lagos, meets up with his late father’s old friend who presents him with his dad’s taxi, ‘Tom Kruise’ (the cab is named Tom Kruise. Aka Tommy) and father’s old friend shows him ‘the roads’, as it were.
The DOP clearly worked the hardest in this movie; yes o! See drone shot stuvs, and then telling the 70% of the story with near extreme close ups. I didn’t mind the close ups, it made the excessively long ‘talking head scenes’ bearable.
Don’t tell me you are still waiting for the rest of the story o! Like I said, only the writer can explain the rest of it because I didn’t see any story being told. But I did like Ijeoma Agu’s character (our Ashewo); she was amazing as an actor, and her story arc nearly rescued the movie, but alas, missed opportunity. I struggle now to classify this movie…but will try: It is ‘who done it-slash-cloak and dagger-slash-boy meets ashi-slash-I can’t be bothered with story-slash-just enjoy the cinematography.’
Before I knew it, gun shots everywhere, dead bodies stacked in this tiny one-room living space in a face-me-I-face-you building, with nobody reacting to random, sporadic gun fight…sigh.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Taxi boy and Ashawo-in-distress begin to flirt right in the presence of the recently departed. In the end our Ibadan boy acquires a cab and returns to Oyo with his hot Ashi. Ah! Could this be the story I missed?