BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
Shirley Frimpong’s 2015 Rebecca tells a story of two people unified by fate. Clifford is organized and near-perfect. He is up before the world is, always on time and super prim. He keeps to his word, which is why he goes to the village against his convenience to get a girl his dying mother made him promise to wed to pay back a debt she owed. Rebecca is a village girl who is being forced to marry a man she had been betrothed to since she was five, a man she knows too little about and feels nothing for.
On their way from the village to the city, the car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. The driver goes to sort fuel issues leaving the duo behind, and this is where the drama begins, right at the back seat of Clifford’s jeep. They move from complete strangers who have nothing to say to each other to people who have to sing to ease up each other to people who have to rely on each other for survival to people making love in the rain. For ninety minutes, these two hold your attention, engage your mind, and unlock your emotions.
The storyline is unconventional as it is beautiful. Shirley is careful to leave out abysmal holes in its plot, and her attention to detail comes clearly across as everything is accounted for. While the resolution appears to be slightly shaky, it quickly recovers and ends with just the right punch to make you feel like you downed a plate of pounded yam and ofe Owerri with a malt.
Joseph Benjamin is Clifford in Rebecca. From his voice over at the beginning of the movie, to the moment he waves to an oncoming vehicle in the end, Joseph remains in character. Casting him was one of the best decisions the producers (Shirley and Ken Attoh) made. Then there is Yvonne Okoro, who keeps pushing herself movie after movie. Yvonne is not cut out for stereotypy, which is why she can be cast as a village girl or a thief or a submissive wife or the devil’s daughter. In Rebecca, she is Rebecca, and she is believable.
It is commendable what the script writer did as well. The conversations are straight to the point and devoid of clichés and floweriness. They have depth that suits the characters and gives the movie soul. We watch the characters make conversation and it feels like we are right there with them. No, it doesn’t feel like they are acting, which is why it is great acting.
The lovemaking scene is steamy with seamless chemistry. That they pulled it off so well on a car bonnet is thumbs-up-worthy. The abruptness of affection is not supposed to work, but it does, because the acting and directing is right on the mark.
Rebecca is not without a few minor issues, however. The idea that a wild animal threatens to kill them and they still step out of the car on that same night is utterly ridiculous. If your life was in danger, how do you still step out alone at night because someone upset you, or because you want to leave a trail for someone to come whisk you away? No one would risk their lives for such flimsy reasons in a place where danger lurks with glittering eyes and sharpened incisors. Again, ‘the rocks’ is mentioned many times, but we do not see any nearby rocks. All we are shown are thistles and plants and a car in the middle of an untarred path.
The minor errors notwithstanding, Rebecca is nicely done. It is creative and has mystery that would keep your eyes glued. And for its brilliance and all-round goodness, I’ll give it a 75.