BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
Because Nollywood is a burgeoning industry, it’s not every day you see a good story. Some days the story is good, but the interpretation leaves you patched and dehydrated. Sometimes, the story and portrayal are good, but the production is shabby in all shapes and sizes of wishy-washiness. Mr and Mrs is one movie that manages to have a pass in all three, though not without its faults.
Directed by Ikechukwu Onyeka, Mr and Mrs tells a story of the Abahs, a couple whose marriage experiences a transitioning. They also have friends, Linda (Thelma Okoduwa) and Charles (Paul Apel), a couple with a seemingly perfect marriage. Susan Abah (Nse Ekpe Etim), a lawyer turned housewife, is seen to have handled her role as a wife with diligence, cooking fresh food for her husband for every meal, washing and cleaning, and still managing to satisfy him sexually when he demands it. The stress begins to take its toll, especially since her husband, Kenneth (Joseph Benjamin), is unappreciative of her efforts and constantly complains. At some point he tells her to leave if she’s tired, as there are a thousand other women ready to take her place. He is also known to brag about his status, saying he’s a son of a minister while her father is a common wash-man.
Soon, they get a divorce but continue to live together to avoid a scandal that could harm Kenneth’s father’s political ambitions. The terms of the divorce requires that Susan remains in the house till the elections are over, but is under no obligation to perform as wife. With this, Susan’s reins come lose and she begins to live as an independent woman. When she no longer cooks and cleans, and after all other alternatives have failed, Kenneth realizes he can’t afford to lose her and begins a mission to win her back.
Linda, on the other hand, claims to have Charles in the palm of her hand and calls the shots in her marriage. She readily dishes advice to Susan and tells her tales of her own happy home until she discovers to her dismay, that Charles has had a long term affair with the maid right under her nose. Both couples go for counselling and finally resolve their issues in the long run.
Mr and Mrs isn’t exactly the most original story, especially with the part of a husband sleeping with the maid. However, certain new perspectives in the story add a flavor to it that is rare and beautiful; the back and forth with the counsellor-cum-lawyer, the terms of divorce, and the elements of humor in the way the tables turn, and generally top notch acting that causes you to emote.
With good picture quality and music that sounds like something out of a hit album (J Martins delivers on this one), Mr and Mrs gives a pleasurable viewing experience. Nse’s interpretation of her role is utterly brilliant. When she cries, she is deliberate. When she needs to scream, she does, when she needs to sob and hold it in like a woman in labour, she does. Nse totally brings it in this film and deserves an applause. Joseph does too.
Good as this movie is, some things don’t add up. So the kids are vacationing in Paris with their grandfather who is also preparing for an election in Nigeria? Hmm… And then he returns but still leaves the kids there? Wow! And how’s it that Linda’s kids are on session while the Abah’s are on vacation? I mean, everyone knows Nigerian primary and secondary schools follow the same schedule. At one point, Nse tries to explain it away that the kids are in boarding school (Oh, and it is also stated that their marriage has lasted only ten years, so if we take a wild guess, three children would probably be 9, 7 and 5 years old respectively. Who puts kids that young in boarding school especially if their mum is a housewife?) but the next moment, someone else claims they’re still in Paris. They keep talking about how the kids are on their way, and then you wonder if they went on vacation in Saturn and need a week for their journey back home.
There’s also the constant blurring of images, even when it is unnecessary. Why Kenneth’s mother won’t realize her son doesn’t eat stale food is beyond me. But we excuse it as a habit he picked up when he was no longer under her. Also, you wonder why she suddenly keeps showing up in the house like she doesn’t have work to do. He keeps coming behind her like a four-year-old, and you wonder if he isn’t a grown man with children of his own, too grown to be acting so childishly. Charles acting is not so believable, and Linda’s naivety is not well sold. A human should not be that insensitive, or is it just me?
Some scenes are wrongly placed. At the vibrator scene, Nse says there’s another woman in the house, referring to the mistress. But no mistress had been introduced until the scene after where the mistress arrives and they finally meet. Again, there’s a scene where the mistress claims she’d be travelling that morning and demands that breakfast be made for her. But we see her in about two more scenes sitting comfortably in the house, not having moved a muscle.
The holes and discrepancies notwithstanding, Mr and Mrs is a breath of fresh air. It is one of those movies that rekindle our hope and faith in Nollywood. What filmmakers like Chinwe Egwuagu who wrote and produced this flick need is attention to detail. No one should be too much in a hurry to get their film out. There should be movie editors who proofread scripts, and generally go over the material again and again and get rid of these gaping holes. It gets embarrassing when we have to start making excuses for our industry. We should aim to be perfect.