Ade Bantu, Andy Amadi Okoroafor, Efe Orhorha, Gideon Okeke, IREP/Goethe Institut film screening, Jibola Dabo, Jimmy Jean-Louis, Kuramo Beach, Nneka, Relentless, Ropo Ewenla, Toyin Oshinaike, Victor Olaotan, Zara Udofia
Memories of Kuramo Beach and its deviant denizens came flooding back at the recent screening of Andi Amadi Okoroafor’s ‘RELENTLESS.’ The film was the October selection for the IREP/Goethe Institut monthly screening, which took place on the City Hall rooftop on October 27.
Telling the story of a shell-shocked ex-peacekeeper, who embarks on a vengeance mission after twice suffering tragic love, the 90-minute flick is different from many other Nigerian films. Obi (Gideon Okeke) is an ex-UN soldier, who returns to Lagos from Sierra Leone. He settles into a ‘peaceful’ life and runs a security firm with his friend and fellow ex-soldier Ola (Ropo Ewenla).
With an impending election and a tense atmosphere, a political stalwart Anaki (Jibola Dabo) hires Obi’s firm to ‘protect’ one of the candidates played by Haitian-American actor Jimmy Jean-Louis.
Obi begins to suspect something fishy about the job when he finds a prostitute, Honey (musician Nneka) snooping around one of the party meetings. She tells him that Stella, her friend and co-worker is missing and feared dead. Things went wrong after a party with Anaki and she suspects he might have a hand in her disappearance. Obi vows to find out what happened to Stella while other uncanny incidents make him want to drop the brief from Anaki. Obi’s suspicion grows when he discovers human blood after Anaki and The Candidate visit a shrine to swear an oath.
On another worrisome note, Obi finds himself falling for Honey, much to his displeasure and haunting memories of the love he lost in Sierra Leone. More worrisome is how it seems he and Honey have found themselves in an ill-omened cycle manipulated to fatally close in on both of them.
Their survival – or lack thereof – is the thrust of RELENTLESS, a testament to the spirit of the soldier and prostitute who fight doggedly to resolve personal issues that are largely beyond their control. The story is well grounded in the boisterous city of Lagos, largely on the now-isolated Kuramo Beach. In the ensuing discussion after the screening Okoroafor makes no bones about the unique Lagos sounds that could have been a distraction and the landscape, which someone in the audience felt was for the most part, ugly.
The actors mostly deliver a good account of themselves, with the likes of Okeke, Ewenla, Dabo, Toyin Oshinaike, Victor Olaotan and Zara Udofia confirming their worth as actors. One surprise was Nneka, who despite a successful career in music gives no hint that this is her acting debut.
While the film’s plot is weaved in much the same way a reckless danfo driver might do to avoid Lagos go-slow, Okoroafor’s story is not difficult to understand nor do the side attractions detract from its unravelling. After all, there myriad things an observer might see on a day out in Lagos. The director effectively initiates all these in the story.
However, some knotty issues in the plot could have been better resolved or excluded. For example, why does Ola’s wife (Efe Orhorha) dislike Obi? Why does Stella set Honey up? Possibly questions Okoroafor alone can answer.
RELENTLESS is what you can call a visual storytelling feast, which oddly enough for a Nigerian film, you might want to see more than once. If you don’t see it for the story, see it for the scenery; if you don’t see it for the scenery, see it for the music, but just see it.