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CINEMA REVIEW: Yemi Morafa’s “Funke!” Could Have Been Golden, But It Ends Up Spelling Inexperience & Shoddiness

Every now and again, you come across that one story that has a purpose; that uncommon, usually untold story that grips your heart and won’t let go. Especially because you have seen too many wicked stepmothers and wedding parties and chattering friends, this one gives you hope of something refreshing, like cold water after a run in the sun.

This is what Funke! sets out to be in the beginning.

Funke! tells a story set in the 90s of Funke, a teenage girl in love with football. Against the expectations of her parents and society, Funke pursues this passion with all her might, until it leads to a tragedy that forces her father to send her to another town to live with her disciplinarian uncle, an academic himself who runs a school. Because Funke’s father has been cheated on his job, his goal is to see Funke become a lawyer so as to come to his defence later in life, and save the family from being cheated.

Through thick, thin and by a stroke of fate, Funke gets her dreams fulfilled.

Funke is played by new actor, Miracle Iyanda. She is a delight to watch, despite being a little rough around the edges in places. Funke and her friend, Ayo (Ojuolape Kayode), pull off something of a teenage friendship cum love story, with the innocent chemistry that passes between them, and gives the film extra warmth. The scenes with them together are perhaps the best scenes of this film, as they flow naturally and are relatable.

But Funke! is a totally scattered idea, and this shows in every sense. It begins with the life of Coachee, played by Okey Uzoeshi, and his struggles as a broke coach passionate about the team and holding on to hope. Eventually, his story fizzles out like steam. Then we meet his friend, Mike, who is a business man, and who suddenly sweeps in at the end to be a hero despite being manipulative about it. We still can’t tell what his story is.

Funke’s father, played by Jide Kosoko is another interesting idea not seen through. He leads a protest at work about fair payment. Then it is cut short, and all we see is him being fired. There is John, played by Kunle Idowu aka Frank Donga, whose role we would never understand, not in this year or the next. And there is Kate, played by Ini Dinma Okojie, who is first Funke’s father’s boss’s fiancé in Abeokuta, then suddenly Funke’s teacher in Ibadan, while also being a Youth Corps member and a cheer leading squad team head. Everything in Funke is disjointed, even down to the shots. One moment, the color grading is brown to show it is ancient, next it is green in the same scene.

Scenes are cut short abruptly, scenes that have absolutely no import are included, like the scene where Funke’s classmate, Efe, puts chewed gum on her chair. Characters are shown with no introductions whatsoever, and then discarded like they were never there. The subtitles are faulty and error-ridden, the credits are unedited, and characters are caught saying things like ‘Don’t fall my hand’, ‘If you no get money, hide your face.’, slangs that are peculiar to this age and time and were never in existence twenty-two years ago.

I understand the need for a director to be artistic with his shots, but hey, not every scene has to begin with an Off-Screen dialogue while focusing on some irrelevant static object. There is a particularly frustrating scene where all we see is a curtain while the scene keeps going till it is nearly halfway done.

This doesn’t spell art. It simply spells inexperience, or shoddiness at best.

Funke! could have been golden, but its final product doesn’t even sport a sheen, and that’s just sad, so sad that by the time you’re done seeing it, you’d look to your neighbour with that ‘what did we just watch?’ stare, and wish the filmmakers had not disrespected you like they ended up doing.

The movie is written by Deborah Bazariah, produced by Jerusalem D’zuamo and directed by Something Wicked’s Yemi Morafa.

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