BY ANDREW OKE
Trace is an extremely frustrating film to watch. It rocks back and forth between passable and terrible so much in its barely ninety-minute runtime that it could give one motion sickness. After every promising stretch of film comes a disappointing twist or revelation that grinds the film’s momentum to a halt and diminishes your freshly burgeoning interest in its story. It is that underdog sprinter that you root for but stumbles at nearly every hurdle. The little train that couldn’t.
The film starts off with an introduction to a perfect happily married couple, Uyi and Ivory (played by Blossom Chukwujekwu and Yvonne Enakhena respectively) on the morning of their first wedding anniversary, so we know things are about to take a left turn. Their day starts off as normal as normal can be. They canoodle in bed and Ivory surprises Uyi with an anniversary present; she’s pregnant, but before they can start planning this new chapter in their lives, a package is dropped at their front door. Inside the package is a pair of women’s underwear and a cryptic note that suggests infidelity on the part of one or both of them. So begins the unveiling of dark secrets that threaten to break up their relationship and the unfurling of a plot that seems clever at times, but is ultimately very poorly conceived.
This film’s story is incredibly confusing and at times difficult to follow as it meanders and takes detours in sub plots that are presented as being important, but are not interesting and have absolutely no impact on the rest of the film. Case in point; the “Uyi is under investigation at work” subplot. It seems like something that should be important to the story, but by the end of the film, it is completely inconsequential and is a complete waste of time. When Trace doesn’t spend way too much time on unimportant subplots, it is busy contradicting itself at every turn and leaving a myriad of plot holes in its path. A character acts a particular way in a scene and by the next scene they act completely out of character for no reason.
The character, Uyi suffers from this unintentional internal contradiction that switches him from a man who acts out, because of adequate motivation to one who is the complete opposite. In one truly unusual instance, these two incredibly huge flaws converge and we go off into an inconsequential subplot where Ivory, who up to this point was just a loyal, but mentally feeble woman, is revealed to have had a lesbian relationship with Uyi’s co-worker. This goes completely against the character that has been built up for about an hour and makes the fact that the film desperately tries to paint her as a victim by its end as either a tragic miscalculation or just plain dumb.
Trace tries hard to tackle themes of fidelity and trust by bringing in external plot devices to peel back the layers of Uyi and Ivory’s marriage and leave them bare. It tries very hard, but it fails in spectacular fashion due mostly to its amateurish execution in both story building and directing. Campy “fish eye” visuals are used in extremely dramatic and tense scenes, making them seem more comedic than serious, and pointless, disorienting tracking shots highlight only a few of the director, Olu Alvin’s inadequacies as a filmmaker. He makes obviously terrible decisions, in this film that are baffling to anyone who has the eyes to see them.
Trace is a film with so much potential and it boasts pretty decent performances from actors who are all too good for the film they are in. The performances are further wasted as there is very wretched sound and shoddy camera work with a copious amount of scenes shot out of focus, so you can barely hear or see the best part of the film.
BLOSSOM CHUKWUJEKWU – Uyi
YVONNE ENAKHENA – Ivory
YINKA PEARCE – Aisha
BAYRAY MCWIZU – Vanessa
GREGORY OJEFUA – Gabu