BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
It gets tiring when you keep spotting the same unnecessary mistakes every time you see a Nollywood movie; mistakes that could easily have been avoided with editing and a little more attention to detail. With the amount of movies out there, one would at least hope that producers can take several chill pills before releasing a new one into the market.
Look at Kamara’s Tree for example, a 2013 film directed by Desmond Elliot. The storyline follows the regular family drama pattern, the type in another one of Desmond’s movies called In the Cupboard except this one is set in Freetown, with the characters bearing Sierra Leonean names. The story begins by showing the individual lives of members of the family, and then bringing them together for their little sister’s wedding. While they’re under the same roof, secrets begin to unfold and threaten to tear the family into tiny shreds.
In the Kamara family, there’s the complicated and suicidal Abdul, portrayed by Sierra Leonean Morris K Sesay. He is married to Vera (Ivie Okujaiye) who is to him a punching bag since he has a drug addiction. She keeps running around with a phone calling a friend to help her get a divorce lawyer, and then telling the same friend not to worry every time he apologizes and makes love to her. Then there’s Tejan (Desmond Elliot), married to Claudette (Aisha Kamara) who is heavy with twins after years of waiting. There’s Nouhou (Bobby Obodo) with a fiancé, Fatou, older than his mother. And then there’s spoilt Selina (Ginnifine Kanu), the bride to be, about to be married to Barry who is unsure he wants to spend his life with her. We also have Tenneh who would sleep with anyone, and has a crush on the pool guy called Lopo. Their father is away on business which is actually just one of his many trips with his mistresses, and their mother (fondly called Mama T) invites their uncle, Foday over to walk Selina down the aisle. Lucy (Lydia Forson) is also invited, and while it is obvious that no one likes her, we aren’t clearly told what her role is in the family tree.
As interesting as this story sounds, the acting isn’t that interesting, and neither is its resolution. We have a Fatou who is rigid and rarely does a thing with her face. We strain to hear anything Abdul has to say, and strain some more to hear Vera except when she’s shouting. There is an unrelenting attempt to create some kind of twist to make the story more delicious, so we discover that Claudette is not actually pregnant and has been carrying an artificial baby bump for several months now which her husband oddly didn’t notice. Tejan is revealed to have had a five-year-old son with their tenant. There’s the revelation of Abdul’s adoption, of uncle Foday’s molestation and of their father’s lifeless body in a freezer, where Mama T dumped his body after an accidental murder following an altercation they had just before the children arrived. And the wedding? It doesn’t hold eventually, but the groom waits till it’s time for the vows before calling it off.
Kamara’s Tree comes off as overly dramatic and not very true to life, a pattern common to many Desmond Elliot movies I have seen in recent times. The only very impressive character is Lydia Forson’s. She makes the scenes light up with every appearance and is really hard not to love. Most of the Sierra Leonean cast seem to have a pattern of acting that doesn’t sit well and we get confused when in one scene, Tejan tells his wife he’s getting a divorce as soon as they are back in Freetown. It makes us wonder where they currently are, after already claiming that the family is in Freetown. And what with the inconsistencies of the wedding date? The day before the children arrive, Mama T says the wedding is in two days. The guests arrive the following day, and claim the wedding is in two days. A day later, Selina says she’s getting married ‘tomorrow’ but after the day ends and tomorrow comes, Abdul tells his wife he’ll leave for the rehab ‘Tomorrow after Selina’s wedding’. Too much confusion there. I’m surprised they didn’t think we’d notice.
Then there’s the accents. In an attempt to infuse some American twang, some characters seem to dole out grammatical blunders in torrents. Selina thinks her father has a ‘past time hobby’ while Abdul misses ‘making love with’ Vera. Selina says in another scene, ‘You cheated on me and even become a serial dater…you u-miliated me…’ and there are several others I can’t begin to recount.
Kamara’s Tree tries too hard, and it comes across. Too many ingredients abound in this soup, and rather than make it sumptuous, they make it slightly distasteful. Sometimes, less is more. Or well, more is actually more if more is done just right.
If I had to grade Kamara’s Tree, I’d give it a 45D.