In no time, a movie has hit the cinema halls that turns out to have better scripting than any of the excessively hyped Nollywood movies of 2016, despite a number of its shortcomings – It’s Hire a Man!
This movie excites a lot, and in a way I never imagined a Nollywood movie could; Hire a Man strikes many right cords with regards filmmaking (screenwriting to be precise) and is a highly relatable movie in terms of theme, plot, character, and to a considerable extent, dialogue.
The most subtly exciting aspect of it for me would be how meaningful every set turns out to be in relation to the story in general. Also, one could easily forget that only two major locations are being used here, as they have been exhaustively explored in the most recommended of ways.
Oh! How I wish this filmmaker paid more attention to aesthetics….
Some interesting themes do exist in this movie that keeps it lively and the audience anticipated: Sibling Rivalry, Let’s Pretend, Reunion, Love and Relationship, and Friendship.
Sibling Rivalry: Some audience members might find this a little unrealistic, but it actually is the real deal, and highly informative about some vile levels of sibling rivalry. Personally, I’ve seen a real-life case of a younger sister talking about how she got her period first, how her breasts sprouted first, and how men find her more attractive because she looks more like a “woman”. In Hire a Man, the younger sister, Teniola appears to be all of this and more! What can the elder sister, Tishe, do here, but try to save her face, which is the foundation of all the drama in this movie.
Let’s Pretend: Let’s hire a man. Let’s pretend that we are in a relationship. This is not the first time this movie concept is being used. In fact, it goes as far back as 1987 with Can’t Buy Me Love, 1999 with Drive Me Crazy, 2011 with Holiday Engagement and in 2004 with a closely related movie to that of this movie, The Wedding Date. They all usually have the same heart-pounding effect on the audience, and Hire a Man comes with its own Nigerian uniqueness.
Every step of the way in Hire a Man, the audience is scared that the younger sister would find out that the older sister hired a man for real. Teniola is extremely aggressive, and it seems no mischief could go past her, and Tishe knows it. This heightens the tension she feels, and the audience feels for her as well.
Let’s pretend, Jeff says. Let’s go along with the idea that I am a poor church rat with no ambition, and let’s see if this lady (Tishe) would love me for me; just like in Coming to America (1988). Tishe then falls for his personality; the kind of charming personality a genuinely hardworking and successful man would have, no matter the pretence. Talk about relationship goals.
Reunion: When all the kids in the house are grown up and with careers, meeting up with the parents could be such a herculean task. Solution? The parents decide to make meeting up a party; they make everyone reconvene at a beach resort to fuel the family bond that has been in existence for years. Turns out, this is where majority of the movie’s drama happens. It is also interesting that a number of successful movies also live off the concept of reunion; it somewhat makes it stand as a working concept, as drama and conflict is definitely bound to happen in such situations.
Love and Relationship: Public display of affection makes everyone around admire the relationship in question, but who knows what goes on behind closed doors? We see this in both sisters. The audience serve as spectators to both relationships and can draw a moral conclusion that relationships require a whole lot more than just a show. Jeff also wins at showing some aspects of what relationship goals entail: sacrifice.
Friendship: Some friends are good, and some friends are bad, but there’s nothing like a friend genuinely helping a friend in need. Tishe’s friend does a good job as a listener, adviser, comforter, supporter, and teaser to Tishe, and this could make some members of the audience regain some hope in the concept of friendship, if it was ever lost. Awesome! 10/10
There are many beautiful ways of starting a movie, according to Tim Long’s How to Start Your Script: teaser to generate curiosity; theme, to pass across the major message of the movie; character, telling a whole lot about character(s); backstory, revealing some vital history; tone, for expectations of what this movie is.
As if these were not varied enough to select from, Hire a Man has the opening of THE AMALGAM – it is a teaser, it sets the theme, it tells us a lot about the main characters, reveals their backstory and sets the tone of the movie!
What follows is progressive story, channelled by tailored conflicts that lead to the second act where the brawl continues. The first act of this movie is so focused that all the other acts resolve almost naturally, and that is a sign of good scripting – at least good scripting to an extent.
A number of favourite occurrences in this movie exist. One grand one would be Tishe’s unplanned announcement of being engaged: this works well with how everything goes. She uses the little time left before the retreat to look for a good looking man to hire. She finds Jeff. Jeff turns her down because of his friend, but later agrees when his friend claims he’s not interested anymore. Jeff is too busy and can’t stay at the resort the night of their arrival and so when Teniola comes, she believes Tishe’s lying, especially as there is no prove of Jeff, and this conflict progresses on and on till the end.
Though, an area here feels a little contrived and too coincidental. The part where Jeff’s friend gives up at the moment Jeff has been asked for a hire; it would be nice to see the major catastrophic occurrence that happens to him on jogging round the estate, following Tishe, on that faithful day, which makes him give up, giving a good and credible chance and reason to Jeff. Maybe coming home with a broken leg or something?
Other brilliant areas of the plot would be the cause-and-effect technique that works for the cohesiveness of this movie. A few will be mentioned below:
- In the beginning, Tishe’s boss announces that the company has been bought over. We later see that Jeff is the buyer and Tishe’s new boss.
- Teniola is an editor of a foreign magazine, and so it makes sense that she can spot a ring that costs a fortune from a far distance.
- The first kiss Jeff gives Tishe visibly takes a toll on her psyche for the rest of the movie till she finally explodes.
- The admired gold chain on Teniola’s boyfriend, Benji, which he claims she bought for him, serves as a tool for revealing his cheating with the random photographer. Though, the movie isn’t clear on if the reason he liked her is because he was a photographer himself. I guess the audience would just imagine that.
- Tishe’s love for excess sugar and the later reveal of Jeff’s love for excess sugar hints Teniola that the couple might not be all that close. Also adds to the tension of if she’s discovered the truth at that moment or not.
A rare technique by John August and Craig Mazin – well, rare in Nollywood – is the scene transition effect of Thematic, where alternate, back-and-forth scenes are about the same topic or image. Here, where Tishe’s mother is asking her about Jeff, and when her father is asking Jeff about her in two different back-and-forth scenes, it also ends with the dramatic utterance of Tishe saying “huh?” after Jeff tells her father that she is bossy.
This could also fall in the category of Misdirect, where the audience think something is happening in one scene, but it’s not. Well, it happens on a small scale in this movie.
Question and Answer (Q/A) where the filmmaker ends the scene with a question, and gives the audience the possible answer to the question on the next scene, happens in different kind of ways in this movie, especially at the beginning where Tishe and friend interview a few candidates for hiring.
The movie has discernable sub-plots with Tishe and Jeff, but could be better with story development concerning other important characters such as Tishe’s friend and Tishe’s parents, and even Teniola and her boyfriend. 8/10
It is quite interesting that the characters in this movie are kept to the barest minimum. Another thing of wonder is the fact that all minor characters can actually be remembered, unlike what the audience is used to with Nollywood movies: the photographer girl, Jeff’s jogging friend, and the MD of Tishe’s company, and the vital role they all play in naturally progressing the story, and not functioning as pawns or quick fixes or presumable after-thoughts.
These are the real minor characters. Another minor character, with regards the role he plays is the dad. He feels like a minor character because there’s not much detail or flesh about him in the movie. It is not even clear what his role is, apart from that of a figure head. Tishe’s mother steals all the shine that could be shared for them both.
Sibling rivalry naturally accounts for the two most important roles in this movie: the protagonist and the antagonist. The antagonist believes she’s got more game than the protagonist, and this intimidates her (the protagonist), and so she tries to step up her game to match up with the antagonist’s. She doesn’t do this alone; she has an ally and helper in Jeff, while the antagonist, because of her evil nature can only get an ultimately unfaithful “subordinate” in her boyfriend, Benji, who she even had to propose to herself on his behalf.
Everyone stays quite in character, and the actors do a good job creating the illusion of what the audience is meant to feel with them. A few over-do it or perform below expectations, but the major characters certainly nail it. 7/10
Majority of the time, there is a whole lot of sarcasm flying here and there, with the incorporation of some humour and witty expressions. Sometimes it feels contrived, sometimes it happens naturally.
Although, right off the bat, despite the fact that it’s a beautiful way to start a movie, the details given about Teniola and Tishe’s current careers seems to not have much effect on the story as a whole; it’s blurted out like it is so important, when it can, instead, be seen or mentioned in passing as the movies moves along. It would be nice to see them unconsciously act and speak like the professionals they are sometimes, but the audience never get to experience that bit.
Their background story is also too descriptive, and could have used the helping of “lean and mean” expressions. A good thing the backstory ends in due time though.
There is a lot of telling in this movie, even if, occasionally, some action occurs to make up for it. The telling also occurs in heated, confrontational moments so it might go unnoticed to audience members.
Sometimes, the audience get to experience a few doses of Naija expressions from Jeff’s friend while he laments to Jeff about jogging around the estate because of Tishe. It can also be seen with Teniola the moment she questions Benji about not being able to control himself when he sees anything in skirt; also with Tishe’s friend when she occasionally teases her about kissing Jeff everywhere “abi”.
Despite the fact that it brings the movie home a little more, the general accent in this movie is foreign which also affects the word choice for expression, and it might help to know that these people have lived abroad where they acquired such accents, but this movie fails to reveal that important information to the audience.
In any case, I recommend the accents anyways, as they also feel more sophisticated Nigerian, which these people are (and some people really are), than strictly foreign. 6/10
Long dialogues certainly affects the pace at which a movie progresses, and this movie unfortunately dangles around this as a shortcoming. Every scene, it feels as though that’s the only thing keeping the scene going, despite the severity of what is being discussed.
It also takes a while for things to happen occasionally. This, continually happening, gets the audience tired of watching the back and forth and really cannot wait to see the end of the movie. Yes, the movie DOES NOT keep the audience wanting more per se, because everything has already been dragged and exhausted.
In some parts of this movie, the scene starts late and leaves early, and majority of already known facts are thankfully left unsaid, like the area where Tishe and friend search for a candidate, and also how the audience suddenly see Jeff with Tishe at the resort with not much ado. The audience are satisfied with these scenes, as they do not waste any time telling the story. 6/10
All in all, this movie comes highly recommended, considering the lot in existence in Nollywood today.
There are so many things that one could learn about the Nigerian millennial from this movie, and because majority of what happens in this movie appears like real-life sophisticated Nigeria, it comes loaded too.
Hire a Man could have been more with better aesthetics as well. The lighting and colouring, amongst others, are nothing to write home about, despite the incorporated beginning animation, which, by the way, looks awful too.
Unfortunately, this movie is not fantastic enough to earn anything more than an A here. However, this filmmaker has the potential to go ahead and get established in subsequent movies that could score an A+ or even an A*.
I’m not even joking! 37/50
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.