BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
Ireti Doyle and Richard Mofe-Damijo have recently become the poster children for Nollywood fitting older couple. There’s something about casting them together that just puts a rumbling stomach at ease: see Dinner, see The Wedding Party. Perhaps it is the fact that Ireti is Nollywood’s middle-aged finest and RMD is back on our screens, and is, well, RMD. Okay, I’m talking nonsense.
Funmi Holder casts this duo as Mr and Mrs Something in her 2016 produced movie, The Grudge. She goes further to cast Odunlade Adekola, an actor popular for Yoruba movies until he recently starred in Daniel Oriahi’s very confusing Taxi Driver: Oko Asewo. In both movies, Odunlade doesn’t exactly speak English (It would have been shocking if he did). What he speaks is a mix of Pidgin English and Yoruba, which is also not bad; there are certain emotions that cannot be properly portrayed in English. In The Grudge, Ireti is Kemi, RMD is Tayo and Odunlade is Taju.
The story of The Grudge is perhaps the most startling of the many things that begin to go wrong with the film. I’m afraid I’d have to spoil this one: Tayo and Kemi are having issues in their marriage; have been for some time now, and Tayo tells a friend of the family who is also his co-worker, Ebere (Funmi Holder). She is a Christian, and offers to pray and give unsolicited ‘christian’ advice, while also helping around the house and generally being a busybody. On the other hand is Taju who is married to Chikodi but whines all the time about money and the absence of it. We find that Chikodi works for Kemi at the office, and when the need for a help at home arises, she again fills the spot for the extra pay. Then she gets pregnant, and everyone thinks it is Tayo’s because Ebere, who is clearly in love with Tayo, says so. Kemi reports him to the police (for impregnating a woman?) and when he is released and embittered by the whole matter, she does nothing but poison Ebere, revealing that she had always known about an affair Ebere and Tayo had five years ago. The end.
I’m not sure which one it is that annoys me more, the very poor story, or the pacing of it. It is like a headband, stretched thin to its breaking point. It is filled with unnecessary distractions that have no business being there. Odunlade, for example, could easily have been removed from this story without being missed. Instead, he probably has more screen time than everyone else, going on and on about his wife, money and a girl with a massive behind he has a crush on. At a point in The Grudge, you simply pull out your phone and play Candy Crush while you wait for his mirthless yapping to end.
The highpoints of this film would be the night Tayo returns from the police station and begins to ask his wife what he has ever done to her. At this point, RMD’s acting jolts up from its slumber and brings with it emotion deeper than what is obtained in the entire movie. Ijeoma Aniebo is also an interesting revelation as she seems to hold her own in the midst of more experienced actors. Ireti Doyle as the sassy, slightly-arrogant, sometimes-vengeful character is starting to get old. It is easy to be typecast in Nollywood; the onus lies on the actor to prove they can be more than just a space on a shelf. Funmi Holder does nothing, really. She is boring to watch as Ebere, and easy to forget. Perhaps it is because she still seems set in Amaka-Tinsel mode.
The problems with The Grudge don’t even qualify to be termed plot holes. They are just offshoots of a terrible story by Funmi Holder (written by Taiwo Egunjobi) and directing that is below par by Yemi Morafa. Okay, there’s this one big hole: The duo of RMD and Ireti Doyle, who is said to have married immediately after their degree at the University of Lagos celebrate their tenth year anniversary in 2016. Let’s do the math. So imagine they both finished school at twenty-five, or lets even say thirty, which is very unlikely, it means that now, they are both forty? In what world is this sold?
The Grudge is weak and disappointing and downright annoying. It doesn’t do anything to you until its last two scenes, which still doesn’t compensate for all the time it has wasted. This hurts, really, because we all wanted, among other things, to see RMD shine. And not that he didn’t, but perhaps the room was too dark for his light.