isoken

ISOKEN: WHAT A BEAUTIFUL CAMOUFLAGE!

Posted on Posted in Movie Critiques

Although, this movie feels awesome, it is not nearly as awesome. Still, it does a good job showcasing concepts that capture the audience’s comic-hungry mind.

Judging from the structure of this movie, though, it is a bit glaring that at some point in pre-production, the filmmaker gets fed up of adjusting and re-editing the script/story that she gives up and decides to go with a script that felt really good, considering Isoken already has a lot of mouth-watering details – therein lies the major shortcomings of this movie.

THEME

Yes, Marriage and Society is a major issue in Nigeria today. The societal pressures for a lady in marriageable age to find a husband are real. What’s worse? When everyone keeps asking her when her turn will be after all her friends and siblings have got hooked. This resonates brilliantly well. In any case, the idea of career and bagging degrees as a major issue for delayed marriage may be a bit far-fetched in 2017 (or even 2016, when this movie was presumably produced). Yes, Isoken thinks so too, but it is difficult to believe her mother thinks the other way. Perhaps, more development is needed here; the audience needs to witness it live that Isoken’s career and degrees are a real burden.

There is a different and detailed interpretation of what Love really is in this movie. Isoken (Dakore Akande) thinks she’s in love with rich boy Osaze (Joseph Benjamin) and his Affluence till she notices how much more of her real self she is with ordinary oyinbo-boy Kevin (Marc Rhys).

It is with Kevin the audience understands the importance of Humility, which is good, ‘cause majority of Nigerians lack it, as can be seen in this movie.  Although, there are very little indications that Kevin could be a cash-cow, especially with the meeting he has with Isoken’s company as the only proof, one thing’s for sure, he’s very comfortable. To be honest, it is not clear if humility is even a theme, as there really is nothing that shows why Kevin decides to live this way. Perhaps, more character development would have helped here. Yes, we know oyinbo boys behave like this, but it would be nice for this movie to take a step further and show us why – it is still a mystery to many!

A lot of audience members would be relieved that in a situation of presence-of-oyinbo, there is no real establishment of Cultural Clash the way Nollywood normally does it. Too many movies have delved into this concept, and thankfully, this filmmaker doesn’t fall into that clichéd trap! Then again, there is cultural clash, but the audience would be having too much fun watching this oyinbo to notice. Brilliant!

Cultural Assimilation, however, firmly makes its way into this movie in the guise of Kevin’s (our cute oyinbo boy) behavior. He appears to understand the Nigerian way of life better than even Isoken and Osaze while still retaining his British nature. This is a good satirical exploration for establishing the need for national pride, and so this theme strikes gold. 9/10.

PLOT

The opening scene of Isoken is captivatingly thematic:  fade in on a number of native legs waiting as the owners sit in a row; a modern man’s legs stands up in the midst, and walks forward; suddenly, his whole body is revealed in a corporate-native wear as he prostrates flat unto the floor (honestly, this disarmed me – visuals!). Without any words spoken, the message is passed clearly in this suspenseful, visual technique. What follows after this scene also confirms the suspicions of the audience that this is a traditional wedding ceremony, and the story of Isoken is revealed in the midst of all this – beautifully crafted.

That said, next in line would be about the sub-plots. There are so many of them that, in fact, there is none! There are so many interesting characters with back-stories untold, and developments next to absent (more on this in the area of characterization).

In any case, it is important to highlight some of the eye-catchy areas in the movie:

  • The opening scene, as earlier stated.
  • The intercut of both lifestyles of Osaze and Kevin and the way Isoken blends into both.
  • When the power outage in Osaze’s house, helps the moment to be more magical.
  • The way Kevin always catches Isoken whenever she’s truly making a fool of herself.
  • Isoken’s truly unique choices of hair-do from start to finish, which speaks a lot about her personality.
  • Kevin’s friend’s unique acknowledgement of the Ghanaian babe’s endowment.
  • The surprise party and the manner in which Osaze promptly proposes to Isoken. Seemed almost like spiting Kevin.
  • The life bands in this movie sing meaningful song that inspire the characters and help progress the story.
  • The match-cut of the rose bouquet from Isoken’s office to the scene where the girls are gathered at a coffee table and discussing Osaze. Though, it seems here that someone wasn’t given the cue that this is meant to be a match-cut, ‘cause it actually is not.

Also, you would find a number of inconsistencies such as these:

  • In the end, when Isoken makes her uprising speech to her family, the whole family jumps into the car to help her go find her true love. Turns out, he wasn’t even going anywhere. He’s just right there at the live band show, which they didn’t have any trouble finding. This parade doesn’t make much sense if there was no true urgency. Like, yeah, they’ve been talking about him travelling back to the UK, but he wasn’t even at the departure lounge. To be honest, this bandwagon doesn’t even make much sense, even for an oyinbo family.
  • It is a little confusing that Isoken’s mother chooses the time she does to start talking about how Isoken’s Masters degree is a hindrance to her getting hooked, especially as Isoken has already started going out with Osaze. It feels a bit over the top, especially as she makes no reference to this new date.
  • There is a police checkpoint that doesn’t serve as a delay or anything to Kevin and Isoken’s ride one night. It is obvious here that this filmmaker just wanted to explore how policemen react to oyinbo people. Even at that, their reaction isn’t very grand either.
  • The audience fails to understand the importance of the granny panty that Isoken happens to own. It doesn’t come in handy in any situation of the movie, especially as the audience expects her to fool herself with Kevin again, wearing it.
  • Waxing isn’t really so much of a thing in Nigeria, especially with the way Isoken casually talks about it, as she’s not so much of a natural slay-queen herself. Not to talk of waxing of the private part that she never uses for anything in the movie. This area screams “Hollywood copy-cat!”
  • There is no explanation as to how Isoken’s Ghanaian friend ends up coming along on her date with Kevin. It also seems like a contrived situation that allows her friend find a man in Chux.
  • Isoken’s married friend cries about the so many miscarriages she’s been experiencing, when in fact, she and her story should not be in this movie as it has no relationship with the major story.
  • It is hard to believe that Osaze would not keep an eye on Kevin and Isoken, so much that they can talk in the open and even have deep long kiss. Unbelievable. Yes, her friends planned this “mistaken” meeting, but it would be nice to see that they were also distracting Osaze. 6/10

CHARACTERIZATION

Osaze is not a bad person. He’s just a victim, just like Isoken, so the antagonist here is not him, but the inanimate concept of the cultural mindset of the Nigerian people, which this movie explores exhaustively.

In addition to that, every character in this movie is unique in his/her own way, and very much loved. As a matter of fact, there is a thing or two to learn from each character. Or at least, the audience appreciates them for their comical inclusion.

However, it is difficult to say that many of these fun characters that seemed to have a story about them, for example, Isoken’s married friend and her husband, the colleagues at her office, her sister, her brother, and the anointing oil wielding aunt, could have allowed the story come out better being eliminated, allowing for space for more details on the major story.

Furthermore, important messages like these…

  • when the female colleague didn’t pay attention to her male colleague and ended up losing out in the end;
  • her sister talking about how miserable she is in her own marriage;
  • and when her brother talked about how he could have got some money off Osaze.
  • The oil wielding aunt talking about Isoken needing prayers.

…well, there really is not a problem with these characters, but when the major characters don’t have clearance about certain areas, all these extra characters become a sort of waste of time and space that could be spent on more important characters, or as a tool for developing these more important characters, which they currently do not. Although, it is perceived that this is the intention of the filmmaker, it just doesn’t work.

No other person could have acted the role of Kevin better than an Oyinbo boy. This is the best decision this filmmaker made in this movie, because any other Nigerian actor, no matter how good, would have made this movie look really stupid, considering the nature of play Kevin engages in. No Nigerian talks or behaves this way! Great casting there!

As a note worth taking, Funke Akindele, Lydia Forson, and Marc Rhys are the most exquisite acts of this movie. I’d like to see Joseph Benjamin in other movies where he’s not letting out his famous side smile and acting the clichéd calm-lover-boy role. 6/10

DIALOGUE

This is primarily what makes this movie work – the dialogue. The dialogue in this movie gives orgasms most of the time. It’s a proper mix of Nigerian dialect/slangs and proper English where required. The dialogue helps the audience feel like we are right here and now in 2017, and this is a great achievement. It shows a lot of research and consultation was done in this area. It is not at all pretentious, and the actors do a great job delivering them in character. There are so many memorable lines in this movie, and that’s exactly what a good movie should provide. Though, majority of these lines are culled from regular Nigerian speeches.

A few favorites would be:

                    ‘All these butterflies you’re feeling in your stomach, se na butterfly we go chop?

                    ‘This hair-do of yours…how do I put this nicely? It makes you look like a rural girl

                    ‘His ringtone is “somebody shout hallelujah”…I mean, I love God but abeg he should chill jor

                    ‘It’s a wedding dress na, it’s supposed to be much’

The area that falls short in dialogue is the on-the-nose concept of repeating information that the audience already has perfect knowledge about. For example, from the way the love triangle between Isoken, Osaze and Kevin plays out, the audience already understands that Nigerians love pretentious high-life, while Kevin has proven that you can be happy without the bourgeoisie lifestyle. But this is also mentioned in the movie’s dialogue, as if in an attempt to preach a recommended lifestyle.

This does not reinforce the concept. If anything, it makes it lose its potency. This sort of preaching can also be spotted in a few areas of the movie, and I wish this filmmaker had more confidence in her audience than stating things again. This could also be the reason why Isoken’s uprising speech with her family members don’t exactly hit a nerve with the audience; everything she says has been established all through the movie already. 8/10

PACING

When the movie begins, it starts with Isoken’s sister getting married. When Isoken finally appears, it becomes glaring why the focus hasn’t been on her all along, and this is satisfying. Almost like, the audience has a lead on her back-story even before she appears, so it kind of positively jumps the story for us.

Isoken is always in the scenes with other characters, as she either is the centre of discussion, or has something valuable to say in a given situation.  Yes, she’s the protagonist and should make majority of the appearances, this, however, gets a little boring and slows after some time, as other characters never get to be on their own and reveal to us their true state of mind, not even Kevin or Osaze. Thankfully, because there’s always conflict in this movie, the audience might not mind.

There’s a swift movement from and to scenes which might be too abrupt for some audience members, considering the lots of supposed sub-stories in this movie, but it seems fine as the audience are generally not left in a loop of not knowing what’s going on in the following scenes. Furthermore, there are so many concepts explored in this movie that makes it easy for the filmmaker to leave a scene as early as possible and make the dialogue lean and mean, allowing the movie to keep the audience interested all through. 8/10


Despite all the shortcomings highlighted, it is important for me to say this: “omo, I enjoy this movie nor be small.” 37/50

PERCENTAGE: 74%

GRADE: A

 

Isedehi Aigbogun, also known as ISD, is a staunch academic, holding a B.A., M.A., and PhD (in view) in English Language.

She’s a Screenwriter, Screenplay Analyst, Consultant, and Film Scriptic.

||||| Like It 1 Like Post |||||

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

seven − two =