BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
I had an epiphany yesterday as I sat in the cinema. I had just watched a comedy film with an almost filled up cinema, and then I was watching this crime thriller film and we were three. Just three. Only three. I came to the realization (not like I didn’t always know, though) that people went more to places that made them laugh. While it is a universal fact that we all want to feel good, it is equally important to opt for things that make us think. Except, perhaps, it is because people distrust cerebral Nigerian movies as they believe they aren’t going to be properly executed, but a technically faulty comedy is still comedy, “at least, we go still laugh.”
I am glad Catch.er turned out to be what it was in the end, or it would have proven the skeptic right. From the title, with the ‘e’ turned left, you begin to consider it not your everyday movie. And you will be right. In the land of Nigerian whodunits, Catch.er might as well be the most believable. The most brilliant. But let me not get ahead of myself as I often do when I am impressed.
Catch.er is centered on the death of Abiodun Bello, a young, ambitious accounting executive and daughter of a millionaire. Her first wedding anniversary is cut short by a phone call from work which she must respond to, amidst her husband’s murmurs. She leaves, tries to sort the issue at work, meets a fraudulent colleague, returns to a cheating husband, and tries to find comfort in the arms of a reliable family member. And then she dies. Nah, she is murdered. Detective Komolafe and Officer John Okoli must find her murderer, and they would have to look beyond the words said and defenses made to catch him.
Catch.er is split into three segments, like Ojukokoro, and shot in four major places: the interrogation room, the hotel, the office and the home. Within these last three places, there is a murderer, and through rounds ‘friendly discussion’, ‘recap’ and ‘more questioning’, the case must be resolved. And we too, the audience, are forced to read between the lines with our thinking caps on, as we cannot afford to see Abby’s murderer go free.
The story (based on an original story by Tunde Apalowo, The Chase Game) is very carefully crafted to block off holes that might cause it to leak to the floor. Everything is accounted for, and not just conveniently placed. The characters are well built, each one with a distinctive identity. Abby (Beverly Naya), the victim, is sweet, tough on the outside, but soft and love-seeking on the inside. Brume Idolor (Blossom Chukwujekwu), the victim’s colleague, is ruthless, has an annoying mannerism of always tapping his ringed finger, but cares deeply for family. Detective Komolafe (OC Ukeje) is witty, extremely intuitive, and has a knack for native attires and a cigarette between his fingers. Officer John Okoli (Tope Tedela) seems naïve, but might be the smartest of the lot. Segun Akintola (Gbenro Ajibade), the victim’s brother, is a loyal hot-headed attorney, jumpy and likes to show off. Tony Bello (Alexx Ekubo), the victim’s husband, is a liar with a penis he names ‘Umaru Diko’. Eva Osaro (Omowumi Dada) likes cute men and fresh money, and will do just about anything for both. Ireti Epega (Wofai Fada) is a typical secretary with an accent, who has a short memory, or pretends it is short. And the MD (Kiki Omeili), the victim’s boss, cannot keep a secret if her life depended on it. These are in fact, all the characters in this film, but they are individually unique and deliberate about everything. And this is perhaps the second best thing about the film, after its story.
The third best thing would have to be its music so good, you can’t get enough of. Or maybe it’s the amazing shots and angles, one of which is a view from inside a pack of cigarettes. Lagos is a beauty in Catch.er, and the cinematography is fantastic.
From Walter ‘Waltbanger’ Taylaur’s previous film Gbomo Gbomo Express and now Catch.er, the filmmaker has proven to be quite avant-garde about his stories. His directing is purposeful and he doesn’t compromise on quality to get the story told. He also doesn’t compromise on cast, and uses big names, some of which he reuses (Ekubo, Omeili, Ajibade, Chukwujekwu). I am not such a fan of Ekubo’s acting, and while he wasn’t outstanding here, he wasn’t bad either. With the seriousness of the story, one would not expect the glints of humor that show up from time to time, with lines like “I look like shit. I smell like old shit.” In general, there are no empty lines lying around, looking for what to do.
Catch.er is one for the awards. It converts the Nollywood skeptic into a believer, and I wish more people would see it.