BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
Here’s what I expect from a short film: a clear message, straight-to-the-point skillful acting, vibrant conversations relevant to the resolution of the story, and entertainment turned up several notches as compensation for its conciseness.
In Iredu offers all of these, but entertainment. While the acting is impeccable (you can’t expect less when you have a four-cast movie of some of Nollywood’s most brilliant actors), and the story has some form of literary depth in its affiliation with Shakespeare’s Macbeth rooted deep in African folklore, this is where it stops. In the end, it leaves you exactly where it took you from, or worse, because now you have an image of three horrendous-looking blind witches in your head.
Produced and directed by Abiola Sobo (2013) In Iredu tells a historic story of a bloodthirsty and power-drunk general of the west, Ogagun, who goes to confer with three dark witches about his future. He goes with the required egg of Eskiaro, a mystical one-eyed bird, after killing the Oba and his right-hand man, Boladeji. He hopes to be king but is disappointed by the divination of the witches so much so that he kills them in anger with the sacred sword of Hekate.
The story is continuously interrupted by a narration that grips at your heart and commands attention, and the choice of words is an obvious product of close attention to poetic detail. It has some animation too, something of a backstory of Ogagun’s sojourn before meeting the three witches.
Unfortunately, the conversation is near incomprehensible. The witches’ speeches are slurred for effects, but it affects the pronunciation of their words such that it is a struggle to understand the dialogue on the first watch. Their theatrics, too, is one that annoys rather than impresses. They have to share one eye, and while they’re busy interchanging eyes, the viewer is impatiently waiting for the fifteen-minute movie to end.
The production quality is professional, and the script reflects decent work. However, from the first minute to the final moments, attempts are made to cut out the head of the narrator/researcher, whose work births the story, in a bid to create suspense. But, probably by a slip of the camera, the head is mistakenly shown, and the observant viewer already knows, too early in the film, that the fellow is the same as the protagonist of the folktale, Ogagun.
In Iredu feels like a stage play. The costume and makeup are brilliant, but too much is said that doesn’t balance out the action. And this is why it leaves us parched and bored.
Deyemi Okanlawon is Ogagun. He has, time and again, proven himself to be an excellent actor. His portrayals are true to life, and his confidence in his delivery makes him easy to like. In the final scene where he looks into the camera and smiles, his eyes are dark and scary and dangerous, a combination that is difficult to pull off all at once; a testament to his acting genius. Kemi Lala-Akindoju and Ijeoma Grace Agwu are two of my personal Nollywood bests with their unconventional screen-skill and dynamism. Together with Adenike Ayeni, they play the roles of the three witches.
Individually, their acting is good, but together and in this short film, it is chaos. It is safe to say that In Iredu is a case of ill-fitting clothes; the actors don’t fit the film, or the film doesn’t fit the actors. Or both. It is hard to say which.
In Iredu gets a 60. It is uninteresting, but technically very well done.