BY ANDREW OKE
Everyone has had their say on Fifty and I’m coming late to the tale but boy, I had to write this one.
Every film gets hyped. It’s understandable. You have to get the bodies into the cinema one way or the other, so you say your film is the best thing since Internet pornography. You do your private screenings and tell your wealthy, one-percenter friends to praise your film to the high heavens. Most times the film turns out limp, tired and highly overrated, but sometimes, on very rare occasions, the hype is justified and the film is truly amazing.
Fifty is not one of such “rare” occasions.
Fifty tells the story of four boring, selfish, middle-aged women going through different personal crises over a few days in the city of Lagos. There’s Tola, played by a perpetually wide-eyed Dakore Egbuson; an unlikable, self involved reality TV star who is about to turn fifty fifteen years too early. Elizabeth, an OB/GYN (Obstetrician / Gynaecologist) who enjoys the company of men of the youthful variety, played by Ireti Doyle. Kate; a party planner with a face as bland as uncooked pasta and a gambler husband, played by Nse Ekpe-Etim in her most emotionless performance to date. And finally, Omoni Oboli’s Maria; a 36 year-old fifty year-old aged by excessive makeup who is pregnant, because she doesn’t understand menopause.
Fifty is a film suffering from a severe case of ADHD. The film focuses so much on telling the stories of these four uninteresting women all at once that it fails to adequately tell any of their individual stories. It just hops from one story strand to the other with reckless abandon, not caring if it is doing any one of them real justice. Case in point: Nse Ekpe-Etim’s Kate is going through a rough patch financially and this is mostly due to her husband’s (played by non-actor, Kachi Nnochiri) supposed gambling habit. However, this is only explored by randomly showing him at a poker table in a casino on two occasions. Nothing the characters do makes that much sense or is explained; they just happen. There is a scene where Ireti Doyle’s boy-toy is having a cup of coffee and he puts seven cubes of sugar in it. That’s it. That is a scene in a film that people are supposed to pay to watch. But the boy-toy, Emmanuel Ikubese, did ‘act’ (if you call what Emmanuel Ikubese does acting) in MTVShuga series and that perhaps is the point of the scene: 7 cubes of sugar in a teacup for the Shuga star.
This director is a genius.
This film is also incredibly boring. It kicks off with one of the most uneventful opening fifty minutes put to film, and it only gets worse from there, as the film never really kicks off. It just struggles to get from one scene to the next, lazily trudging along until it finally drags itself across the finish line like a half-dead horse.
If you thought that the wide array of acting talent in Fifty would produce acting performances that would redeem the film from its unavoidable damnation, you were wrong. Each one of the leading ladies gave performances so terrible, I was expecting an apology at the end of the credits. Dakore Egbuson overacted and yelled her way to the credits. Nse Ekpe-Etim and Omoni Oboli did what they do best and put in yet another set unwatchable performances. Ireti Doyle was the only lead that gave half a good performance, but that means very little since her character was given almost nothing to do.
I have to admit that Fifty did succeed in showing everyone that Africa isn’t just hungry children with flies on their faces; it can be glamorous and beautiful as well. Although I must say that after the millionth shot of the Lekki-Ikoyi bridge, I began to wonder why it wasn’t billed as one of the stars of the film. After all, it probably had more screen time than all the film’s leads put together.
Fifty looks and feels like the hour and a half long pilot for a below average soap opera. It is a poorly acted and poorly paced mélange of random scenes and happenings stitched together by Victor Frankenstein’s less than capable man servant, Igor AKA Biyi Bandele. To put it plainly: Fifty is a mess and is a prime example of a film that is in no way worth its hype.