Ever seen one of those commercials for burgers on television? Where the bread looks so properly bodied and the sesame seeds are evenly spaced out, and the skin of the sandwich is even shining shining so you pick yourself up and decide that you need one of those. When you now get to the restaurant and order the exact same thing you just saw on television, what comes out looks like the rejected stone that is quoted in the Bible? Such is the experience of watching From Lagos With Love especially after seeing the trailer.
The trailer sells you on some high end drama that occurs in a family when everyone gets together for a reunion at the parents’ home. The cast is made up of some seasoned actors, the shots looks heavenly and it all beckons you to go buy your ticket now. It all feels quite Tyler Perry at the least, except when you get there you are met with a hodgepodge of bad performances, flimsy directing and a story that could do with a lot more substance.
The most frustrating aspect of this movie really is the mismatch of performances. While on one hand you have heavyweights light Bimbo Manuel and Daniel Etim-Effiong (as Efosa), on the other hand you have people like Jon Ogah (as Tunde) and Funke Kuti (as Chinwe) looking like they are participating in a primary school class play. And those two were not the only culprits. The movie was ridden with many non-actors in semi-pivotal roles where their absolute lack of any acting chops was sure to (and actually does) bring down the quality of the final film. One could argue that there really was only one scene in the movie where any actual performing was done. And it was the scene towards the end of the movie where Efosa confronts Ify about their relationship. Prior to that, there’s just a lot of senrere, a lot of eye rolling and body rolling, and a lot of going through the motions.
The story itself is surface enough to pull in the usual crowd – especially being written by Dami Elebe of Skinny Girl In Transit fame – but when it tries to dig any deeper there really isn’t any space to allow it. On the one hand there is Ify, a 32 year old spinster, who is trying to recover from the heartbreak dealt her by her boyfriend of 6 years and her friend while still navigating the dating scene and the tenuous relationship she has with her sister. Then there is Chinwe, said sister, who seems to be in a loveless and childless marriage with a husband who has given up on the relationship. There’s also Tunde, the 27 year old only son of the family who is in some form of a forbidden relationship with an actress. Finally there’s Sharon Ooja, just being pretty from scene to scene because I am assuming someone figured there was enough drama in this film already. The center of the story is Ify’s character and Enado has enough charm to captivate you into the character’s life. Except that when you pull back the sheets, you realize that you only really know the character on a surface level, and just like with all the other characters in this movie, no real connection is ever made.
Then there’s the production. For a movie that appeared to have this much financial resources at its disposal, the cinematography and general picture quality was quite underwhelming. From the scenes where the light is essentially absent to the shots that make you question whether the person behind the camera even read the script, it’s hard not to think that maybe this movie might have been just a little more palatable with a more seasoned director behind the wheel. The film is directed by Tola Odunsi who also directs the RedTV series “The Men’s Club“, and many of the problems present in that web-series are present here.
Prior to seeing FLWL, one would think that this formula of filmmaking is pretty fool proof; star studded cast, beautiful sets and costumes, plus romance and grandeur, should always equal at least a tolerable film but From Lagos with Love proves that wrong.