BY JAX OLOTU
Given the publicity that has gone ahead and the lineup of people who worked on this project, we approach Lara and the Beat with our breaths held. We expect to be blown away.
Lara Giwa, and her younger sister, Dara, are left stranded upon a financial scandal by their uncle that puts their late parents’ media outfit in crisis. They lose everything, including the roof over their heads. Having been rejected by friends, they are forced to live with Patience, their housekeeper, and her family.
Adjusting to the new kind of life is a struggle for Lara, and she makes some bad choices while trying to cope. Then she meets Sal ‘Mr. Beats’, and together, they find a way to achieve both their musical dreams. Dara also finds a friend in Patience’s daughter, Tonye, who helps her realize her own dreams as well.
This coming of age story captures a moment in time in the lives of sisters who fall from grace to grass and work their way up from it. The storyline is universal, hence relatable. What makes it amazing, or not, is the amount of emotion it is able to elicit from its audience, and in Lara and The Beat, we get very little of this.
It is evident that a lot went into this production, and the movie is pleasant to at, with cinematography and color grading that gives your mind peace and make up and costume that gets you in your feelings. The sound is great too, and with original music compositions, we get to love Seyi Shay and Vector as the musicians that they are.
But Lara and the Beat is unable to make a home run with its story, with the way it develops, the way it climaxes (or not), and the way it resolves. Unlike New Money, a grass to grace story that dwells on both the grass and the grace, taking its lead character through a complete change, Lara and the Beat gives us quick peeks into their lavish, another into their not-lavish, but doesn’t get its audience to feel anything concrete through this rapid transition. Quickly, it moves us to Sal’s story, then to a studio we know nothing of, to a messiah who sweeps in and saves the day, and to a woman who talks big but doesn’t follow through. We meet characters as quickly as we discard them, and we get to be told a lot of things, rather than be shown.
Lara and the Beat attempts to do too much and consequently doesn’t see one issue through before dabbling into the next. It is hard to tell where the challenge stems from; the writing, the directing, the acting or a combination of all three.
The acting is generally good. Somkele Idhalama and Kemi Lala Akindoju do a great job of their roles as Dara and Tonye. Chioma Akpotha and Bimbo Manuel give their characters life and humor. Uche Jombo really should not have been made to play Fadekemi as she struggles with it, and Wale Ojo is barely felt. The duo of Seyi Shay and Vector, who play lead and the film’s love interests do a fair job. Seyi pulls off spoilt rich kid but doesn’t sell love-struck, either overdoing or underdoing. And Vector, who made a disappointing acting debut in ‘June’ is better here, but still not fantastic. They fall in love too quickly, break up too quickly, reconcile too quickly; more like everything else that happens in this film.
The movie also features Toni Tones, Anee Icha, Chinedu Ikedieze, Deyemi Okanlawon, Ademola Adedoyin, Shaffy Bello, DJ Exclusive, David Jones, Demi Banwo Akah Nnani, Sharon Ooja and Saidi Balogun.
It is produced by Biola Alabi and directed by Tosin Coker.
Given the publicity that had gone ahead and the lineup of people who worked on this project, we approached Lara and the Beat with our breaths held. We expected to be blown away. We weren’t.