BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
Given the kind of publicity, good and bad, that this 2017 film written, produced and directed by Omoni Oboli has had in the last one year, it is only expected that the cinemas would be packed full of curious people like me, hoping to see what the fuss has been about. Like her previous film, Wives on Strike, Okafor’s Law was a name on many lips, and as I came to realise on Friday, the name on many movie tickets as well.
The thing about a film with that much hype is that it raises expectations through the roof, especially since the filmmaker/actress was quoted to have claimed that she was hoping to realize a staggering five hundred million naira from the cinema screenings and that she had spent about 20% of that amount making it. And so we went, hoping to see a movie that that much money was spent on, investing in spare popcorns for the drama that would blow us away.
Okafor’s Law tells the story of Chuks aka Terminator, a serial womaniser, who is dared by his friends to prove the reality of an Okafor’s law that states that once a man has slept with a woman, he can have her again and again, whether she be single or with another man. His two other friends, who also happen to bear the name Chuks, place a bet on it, staking a percentage of their joint business, and for this Terminator takes it very seriously. His friends select the girls, some of the toughest nuts among his exes; Ejiro, a religious career woman who is bitter towards men, Ify Omene, who is married to a protective business tycoon, and Tomi Tijani, a PR exec who is stone cold. He is given a period of three weeks to do this.
It isn’t the deepest of stories, but its lightheartedness is entertaining, considering it is tagged a romantic comedy. Blossom Chukwujeku is Chuks Terminator, Gabriel Afolayan is Chuks Baptist and Ken Erics is the last Chuks, Fox. Theirs is a chemistry that doesn’t gel, at all. We are reminded every ten minutes by their body language that this isn’t a true-to-life friendship. The lines they exchange are fair (big ups to the writer), but their expressions seem like they can’t wait to be rid of one another. Gabriel Afolayan is about the only one who tries to make this ‘bromance’ work, but he has to talk a lot to do this, which comes off a little overdone sometimes.
Okafor’s Law has its hilarious moments. However, it doesn’t escape its cringe-worthy moments, like every scene Toyin Aimakhu appears in as Tomi. Toyin is one of the many actors who have been typecast so much that they can’t seem to break out of it, and this shows when the only time she actually gives us anything satisfactory is when she turns ‘street’ and cusses the young man out in Yoruba. Other than this, her performance is a huge downer. Ufuoma McDermott as Ify is surprisingly unimpressive, as opposed to her showing in Wives on Strike. Half the time, her face wears no definite expression, and only the words do the job. Omoni Oboli takes her Ejiro character quite seriously, but there hasn’t been any doubt that she is a good actor. Richard Mofe Damijo, Tina Mba, Yvonne Jegede and Mary Lazarus are cast as supporting actors.
The flashback scene explaining the origin of Okafor’s Law is very well done. The lovemaking scene too deserves applause for how authentic it comes across. The story begins to go south when we find Terminator catching feelings we cannot see or feel. He is out on a date with one of the women, and just by seeing a shooting star, it is established that he has caught feelings. One month later, he is sitting down, drunk and dishevelled because his feelings have not been reciprocated. Because of the way he has been portrayed from the beginning of the film, this sudden change in behaviour seems totally out of character, or maybe it would not have been if the acting had been more believable. Another part that makes one wonder is how Terminator is able to get Ify’s PA, Onome (Kemi Lala Akindoju) drunk within such a short time while Ify was just sitting there, looking away. It comes off as unrealistic, from the uptight PA falling for the cheap trick to the damsel in distress looking lost, to the smooth operator working magic.
The sound is up and down, literally. There are moments when you want to turn around and ask who turned down the volume, and then other moments when you grin because you hear it so loud. The picture is great. The directing isn’t remarkable, but we have to give props to Blossom who, following in Emmanuel Ikubese’s footsteps in Fifty, has conquered an extra frontier in nudity.
The resolution leaves a lot to be desired. This is one part that still seems to be an issue with many a Nollywood films, but we will get there. The end is so abrupt; perhaps the director realized that if they let it unfold as slowly as the rest of the film, half the audience would be snoozing by the time the film is over, so they rushed it up. What would have avoided this altogether would have been taking away all the unnecessary side attractions that do not enhance the story in any way, or cutting short scenes that go on for too long, in order to give room for a better resolution.
All in all, Okafor’s Law isn’t an exceptional film. I wish it was; I had high hopes for this one. The storyline doesn’t leave a mark in your head or heart, and neither does the acting. It just flies mostly on the average, even to its directing and production quality. Luckily, it has found a place on big platforms like the Toronto International Film Festival. We look forward to better films from Omoni; this definitely didn’t blow us away.