Make a Move, directed by, Niyi Akinmolayan
I saw an ad for this movie July last year on DSTV. It caught my eye for two reasons: first off, it seemed to be about domestic abuse, an issue very close to my heart – I remember specifically a brief clip from the scene where Osas gets beaten by her stepfather, and then a fast-forward to the scene where she points a gun at him and he pees on himself. At that point I was thinking “this might be interesting…”, and then I saw that Eno Ekpeyong acted in the film, and I thought “whoa! I actually know someone in a movie!” (and by know I mean I’ve met, talked to and taken dance lessons from him). So I made a mental note to definitely watch this film. And (only) 6 months later, I can cross that off my to-do list.
At the end of the movie, I was dissatisfied. It was not a good film. It wavered between almost good, just ok, and quite shabby. It was almost as if the movie was directed by two different people – one person able to deliver stirring scenes and draw you into the story, the other, just making your typical Nollywood film: little or no attention to detail, and no edits or retakes of scenes that were less than acceptable. As a result, I couldn’t fully “settle into” the film. Each time I got drawn in to the story, I was soon after shaken out of it by some overlooked detail. For instance, in the scene where Mercy, aka “Sugar Baby” receives a letter just before she gets down to business, I think it would have been excellent if we were allowed to see what exactly the letter was. Maybe a large print with “Employment Letter” or “We are pleased to offer you a job at our company” so that we know exactly why she has changed her mind about servicing a costumer and instead sends him away by pointing a gun at him. I actually thought she was a part-time armed robber, and that the letter was from her gang leader saying they had a job to do that night. Then later when she was crying (presumably) tears of joy, I thought someone rich had died and left her a fortune. But apart from my initial loss, I really liked that scene, especially when the (very unsatisfied) customer calls her out for being a prostitute (even though that’s why he was there in the first place) saying: “Ashawo no be work o!” and she responds very aptly: “no be you dey find us?”1 It also provides very good background for where Osas will eventually get her infamous gun.
It is interesting to note that the most believable scenes where those that focused on Osas’ domestic life. We have mostly Tina Mba and Wale Adebayo to thank for that I think. I don’t know if we can also credit the director for this, considering that the scenes that did not involve these two were the ones that fell short, or just fell flat.
Another thing that really got to me was the audition near the end of the film. Even if I managed to ignore the poor editing job was done to put Omawumi, 2Face and Denrele into the picture, I will never understand how Osas’ group managed to win. I’m sorry but the three guys in purple and the four in black out-danced them2. I mean, I guess the story arc sort of rigged the competition in their favour, but they could have made a much better effort (with both choreography and delivery) to make their winning more credible.
Also, when Tunde went to gamble, a) why didn’t he still have the 300k? That’s A LOT of money to squander in so short a time and b) what game were they playing exactly3? Also, there was no precedent established in the movie that suggested he was a gambler. No one made any reference to this habit or to The Don for that matter. You have to introduce ideas and characters in a movie, not just drop them smack dab in the middle of the story.
But by far, my biggest peeve had nothing to do with directorial carelessness, or even technical problems. No, I could have overlooked all these if the story had simply ended differently. Specifically, if Chuma had not come to Osas’ rescue. I think it is counterintuitive (at best) that it is some random man who saves Osas and her sister from her abusive step-father and her unbelievably-in-denial mother. And yes, I think my calling Chuma “random” is justified because if you take a step back from the movie magic smokescreen, you’ll see that Chuma has no real incentive to help Osas and Esosa, except maybe if he has some hidden agenda. He’s not Osas’ brother, relative, or even her friend. He just happened to stumble upon her while she was dancing in the studio and again while she was cleaning said studio (in fact, didn’t he walk past her in this same studio without so much as an acknowledgement near the beginning of the film?) And all of a sudden he desperately wants her in their dance group and is ready to part with 300 grand (how rich is this guy?) to get Osas out of jail. According to the movie, the time between when Osas joins the dance group and the big dance-off is 10 days, and Osas met Chuma a few days before. So basically, neither the audience nor Osas knows Chuma well enough to know whether his intentions are purely innocent. For all we know, she could have just walked out of one abusive situation only to walk right into a new one. I thought the whole point was that it was her mother’s fixation to the idea that she needed to have a man in her life that got them all into that mess. But here Osas is re-attaching herself to another man? I see no reason why it couldn’t have been Mercy from the beginning of the movie, who after having moved on to greener pastures, comes back to help her friend. Or Osas could have reached out to her when she felt desperate and cornered. Instead the path the story took called to mind building a house only to get a bulldozer and knock it down afterwards. I cannot tolerate lazy story-writing.
There is a great deal that can be said on this exchange but that will be another time.
Speaking of the 4 in black, what exactly did the judges mean by they didn’t have passion? I had to watch their performance again after they made that comment, and I am still at a loss.
Actually this one’s not a rhetorical question so if you have the answer, help me out here.