BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
In the Hollywood 2008 movie, 27 Dresses, Jane is every lady’s go-to when it’s time to get married. She is the perfect bridesmaid and planner and friend, and does this at the expense of her own happiness.
In June, the titular character is a woman in her mid-thirties who is much like Jane. In her case, however, she does this for the money, creating magical moments for brides and giving them the wedding ceremonies of their dreams while hoping for the day her long-time boyfriend will finally pop the big question that would bring her to her knees, sobbing, nodding and stretching out a ring finger. Her problem is compounded by her mother who breaths down her neck every chance she gets to get her to bring home a man, the calendar, which reminds her daily of her advancing age, and her boyfriend, whose heart doesn’t seem to be in the right place. When he finally gives her a ring, it is a promise ring that means nothing at all, and has her completely disgusted and heartbroken.
On the other hand is Toke (Toni Tones), a spoiled brat getting married to a mama’s boy, Dewale. She recruits June as her wedding planner while constantly bragging and bitching about everything. He husband-to-be is kind to June and realizes they both work out at the same gym, and tries to get to know her until he falls for her. June is conflicted between accepting a love she has sought for many years at the expense of betraying her client, or just doing the seemingly right thing and giving her client the memorable wedding she so seeks.
As the characteristic of the romantic film genre is ‘love conquers all’, indeed, their true love finds a way to win.
The story, which is a time-worn love twist, follows all the back and forths of a woman’s quest for love. June is constantly nagged by everyone around her, and it would seem her life and career success mean nothing at all beside her inability to be married, a mindset that is faulty and should really not be encouraged. The love she finds with Dewale (played by Nigerian rapper, Vector) is sudden, rushed, and devoid of any real foundation, and so when the last minute theatrics begin, we simply cannot connect with it.
June is played by the beautiful and talented Michelle Dede who is flanked by unmarried friends played by Uche Jombo and Empress Njamah. Their banter, while bearing a semblance with that of the unmarried friends in Isoken and especially with the spa location, is poorly-written and holding no concrete significance to the story as a whole.
Being a witness to love is a beautiful thing, but only when the love is shown. In June, we are at a loss of what love is, as it is neither read in the eyes nor sensed in the actions. Vector, for one, is hard to watch as his expressions are mechanical at best and he doesn’t seem to know what to do with his hands. Handling a responsibility this huge for a debut in a feature film seems quite heavy. What happened to working your way upwards? Michelle Dede does a far better job, but her performance doesn’t seem enough to carry the entire film on its wings.
June’s predictable sequence of church-going for marriage miracles, last minute mind-changing and dramatic wedding interruptions leave you weary. It concludes on a rather tepid note with recycled extras and a wedding that is nearly not as believable as a snake swallowing wads of cash. And for a wedding supposedly between two extremely wealthy Yorubas, it is hard to explain the bride’s Igbo sibling and the ordinariness of the ceremony. Technical issues abound with continuity and sound that could easily have been prevented with a little more attention to detail.
It is disappointing that Desmond Elliot directed this film, especially also because it was written and produced by Chinneylove Eze, one who was fast becoming a name of note in Nollywood rom-com circles. Their previous collaboration in Hire A Man yielded a far better output, which makes one wonder what could have gone wrong with this outing; the choice of cast, the strength of the story or both? Whatever it is, Hire A Man is light years ahead of what June is in almost every sense, and June may have added to the growing list of 2018’s Nollywood cinema disappointments.