BY ANDREW OKE
I abhor prescriptive criticism. I believe that it isn’t the critic’s job to tell his readers what films to see and which ones to avoid. But please, permit me to make an exception this one time.
If you’re a fan of terrible acting, shambolic editing, nonsensical storytelling, people knowingly pronouncing lingerie as “lin-jerry” and a stupid title that you are 110% sure will find its way into the film, then maybe you might enjoy Best Okoduwa’s Yes I Don’t. If, like me, you do not take pleasure in punishing yourself or wasting your time and hard earned money, then Yes I Don’t is not the film for you.
Yes I Don’t is yet another addition to long list of piping hot messes that have made their way into Nigerian cinemas this year and follows in the footsteps of Entreat for struggling to be a film within a film. It attempts to tell the story of four young women who work at a movie studio, as they navigate and re-evaluate their love lives with the help of a book that is mentioned for the first time, thirty minutes to the end credits; 10 Kinds of People you Must not Marry, How to Marry Right by Pastor Dexter Akin-Aremu.
There’s Mayen (Omowunmi Dada), a woman with no specific character traits other than the fact that she is happily engaged to be married to Terry (Van Vicker), a man with no specific character traits other than the fact that he is happily engaged to be married to Mayen. Their relationship is seemingly perfect until she confesses to him that she has a nine-year-old son. This puts a strain on their relationship for a whole minute until they resolve the issue there and then, in the exact same scene and continue planning their wedding (the son is never mentioned or referred to again in the film and doesn’t even make an appearance at the wedding). Nothing much happens to either of these two characters after this point. Actually, nothing at all happens to them until 10 minutes to the end of the film when Mayen finds out Terry is a scam artist (or something) and says “Yes I Don’t” at the altar.
Then there’s Sandra (Nancy Isime), an attractive, young woman who basically just sits around doing nothing until she magically loses 1.4 million Naira of her bosses money in an incident that is neither shown nor explained. Maybe it fell down a well or was stolen by fairies. This leads her to date and get engaged to a rich man who she has no feelings for. The confusing thing is when she eventually breaks it off with the man who she is clearly not attracted to, she spends the rest of the film binge drinking and bawling.
The other two women are Anna (Jennifer John), a lady who is dating a man-child and Seyi (Judith Audu), the secretary of their boss who rebuffs all his advances because he is married and she thinks it’s a bad idea to sleep with married men. Seyi then goes ahead to sleep with him, because, according to her, he is married and it’s a good idea to sleep with married men.
Most of the scenes and plot points in Yes I Don’t left me confused, but nothing caused me to cock my head in bemusement more than the emptiness of the films characters. It would have been better if they were cardboard cut-outs, but they were even less than that. The characters in this film are hollow shells and, to be completely honest, barely even qualify to be called characters. Add to this, the unbearable performances by every single individual that showed up on screen and you have a film that is begging you not to watch it and then mocks you incessantly for being stupid enough to spend money on a movie ticket to see it.
It doesn’t take a genius to see that Yes, I Don’t is heavily influenced by the popular Hollywood movie Think like a Man. The problem is that this throws away all the good things about that movie like the interesting characters and the humour and ends up being a forgettable caricature of Think like a Man instead of a homage. Yes I Don’t seems like a film made by someone pretending to be a filmmaker. As if the real writer/director had an aneurysm and died, so he had to be replaced by some fellow that just happened to be around by the name of Best Okoduwa.
The only solace I feel after seeing this big fat nothing of a film it is in the fact that it is as forgettable as it is bad.