BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
Biodun Stephen’s latest romantic comedy, Picture Perfect explores the life of a well-off fashion designer, Kunmbi who, by sheer workings of fate, encounters a typical Lagos area boy, Jobe, who helps her in her time of need. He would subsequently become a regular in her life, a pain in her neck, and the reason for many mistakes she would make.
The story of Picture Perfect is one of the least compelling stories by Biodun Stephen. From the woman who has written stories like Tiwa’s Baggage and The Visit, the Picture Perfect story comes across as something of a gamble. The writer doesn’t appear to know what she wants her characters to do as she writes, so she follows a line of thought and veers into another as the different muses whisper, and the story’s title has very little to do with its story, except for that one time when Kunmbi is told she is looking for a picture perfect man. But she really isn’t; the film doesn’t show her to be superficial or wanting a fairy tale lover. She is just a busy woman who doesn’t want to be disturbed. Perhaps if she had indeed fallen for Jobe at all, the title would fly.
Maybe the goal was to be unpredictable with this story. Maybe the goal was to teach a lesson. Whichever way, the story doesn’t do enough justice in its coherence. Entertainment-wise however, the jamajama-ness of the story works, and it works for one reason only: Jobe.
Bolanle Ninalowo as Jobe makes a statement, one like Rita Dominic’s statement in The Meeting. It is a career-defining statement, a ‘I am no pushover’ statement. He embodies Jobe so well, we fall in love. With this role, he grabs a rare opportunity to sell himself as more than just a great body and plenty English. He rocks it and makes us want to listen to him.
Mary Remmy Njoku is a good choice for Kunmbi, even though you can already tell she isn’t Yoruba by her Yoruba. Her acting is totally believable all around, and we have a good time watching her character play cat and mouse with Jobe.
Bisola Aiyeola is Kiksy The Friend. She is portrayed as one who doesn’t have a life of her own, a sort of feature in her own life. Her character is nearly pointless, but her acting is priceless and gives the movie its extra shine.
Ronke Ojo’s one-scene role is a classic, just like her role in Tiwa’s Baggage. Here she is a dry gin seller who makes advances at Jobe. She is highly entertaining to watch and should consider taking on bigger roles as she always seems to smash them.
And there is the man with phenomenal talent who plays Jigger.
Picture Perfect, directed by Tope Alake is crazy hilarious, it makes your eyes water from so much laughter. This is its strongest point. It floors even comedy movies with its humour, and you are fed full with amusement in virtually every scene Jobe appears in. This is the feeling you take out from watching this film, the feeling of light-heartedness and joy, that despite the bumpy ride you were on half the time, there is shawarma and ice-cream goodness for your troubles.
Picture Perfect is not without its message, even if this does not seem like the primary message it aims to pass: Everything isn’t as it seems. Jobe might drag bus conductors by their belts for fifty naira notes, but he has kindness and responsibility within that probably just wasn’t nurtured the right way. He knows to protect himself and to seek consent in matters of sexual relations, he knows to take responsibility for his actions and not take advantage of helpless people. He knows to stand up for himself and other people, those he cares about and strangers in danger, and he knows to listen and respect people’s choices. But there are two things he doesn’t know: the meaning of philanderer and how to name a child.
The pacing of the film is slow and repetitive in certain places, and the women carrying the same hair for as long as a year take away some believability from the story. The extras are recycled one too many times; we find the same people on the streets, at the bar, with the area boys, everywhere.
Picture Perfect has soothing music and a colourful picture that shows off Lagos. It is a film to enjoy despite its shortcomings, if for nothing at all, at least for Jobe.