Review of London Premiere of Omoli Oboni’s The First Lady
The movie The First Lady premiered at the Odeon Cinema Greenwich on Friday 27th November 2015. On the red carpet were the lead cast Omoni Oboli, Joseph Benjamin, Anthony Monjaro, Alex Ekubo and leading Comedian AY. Also present to grace the red carper were Directors, Producers, cast and stakeholders of London Nollywood, fans of Nollywood and members of the public.
Storyline: According to the synopsis of the movie as released, the movie was a classic Cinderella like story where a prostitute, Michelle (Omoni Oboli), is stuck in a world she couldn’t escape from. Her hope that one day a Prince Charming would rescue her from it all, seems lost. However, a heir to an empire, Kenechi Joseph Benjamin), is transformed into a child (Chinedu Ikedieze) by an overly ambitious uncle who wants the empire to himself. Bound by a shared destiny, Michelle finds that she might be doing the rescuing until she realises there’s no escaping her pimp Obama (Alex Ekubo), who would do anything to keep her as his First Lady.
For an average person looking at the title of the movie, one would have thought it had something to do with politics and the wife of a President or Governor or even the wife of the Pastor of a church (after all they are called First Lady these days). However, the expectations were cut off. The plot of the movie was simple and the storyline was so easy to follow from beginning to the end.
However, I would like to say that there was not much of suspense in the movie as most times, the outcome was predictable. I would like to give two clear examples. There was a scene where Michelle was to be used as a sacrifice. Without watching the outcomes were either that the man loved her or was going to use her for something negative. The answer was given away as soon as she forgot her phone. I could almost tell you word for word the next scene. At a stage I even shouted throw away the dress and low and behold she did. Another example was the end of the movie, it was so predictable that Michelle and Kenechi would get married and that he would grow back from a child. Personally, as a critic and a reviewer, I would have liked to see an unexpected twist that no one would have expected.
That said, it does not take away the fact that the movie was very humorous and entertaining. I was sitting next to a lady who said she is not a Nollywood fan, but she kept laughing. I believe Omoni had in her mind a movie that was comical and I must say that 100% she achieved that target.
The story itself is one that can be related with. Prostitution even amongst graduates is common not only in the Nigerian but the African setting. It is so bad that even graduates target rich politicians and don’t call it prostitution but give it all sort of attractive names. The lady next to me mentioned Allen Avenue in Ikeja as soon as she started watching. I think she actually meant Opebi area close to Sheraton where at night the place is busy. The role of Obama is also a common thing.
The movie therefore apart from being comical had an inner message. To me, the dangers of prostitution were highlighted. One of them being how easily one could lose their lives as they do not know who their clients are. In an age of kidnappers and people who use people for human sacrifice, prostitutes are an easy target and could disappear without trace. Violence was also highlighted as one of the “side effects” of prostitution.
I would have liked to see a scene with one of the prostitutes suffered some kind of disease as HIV to nail the coffin that prostitution does not pay and is dangerous.
Cast: The cast included Omoni Oboli, Chinedu Ikedieze, Joseph Benjamin, Alexx Ekubo, Yvonne Jegede, Udoka Oyeka and Tony Monjaro amongst others.
Let me start from the positives. All the lead characters put all their years of experience into the movie and I cannot fault any of them Omoni, Joseph, Alex, Anthony and Chinedu.
However, as is my style, I pick on one or two people that impressed me. In this movie firstly I would like to say Alex was magnificent. I have watched movies he had played lead and otherwise, but this role brought out the best in him as a Nollywood actor. I am not saying that in his other movies, he did not do well, but in this movie, he just cannot be overlooked. I could almost believe that he was a local pimp in real life. He brought the movie to life and made his role look so real. The only downside and this may be due to cuts rather than the actor, the slaps and beating looked a bit artificial. No closeness to the person being slapped.
Also seeing the posh Omoni (please pardon me) playing the role of a local prostitute speaking pidgin English as if there was no tomorrow added spice to the movie. I think all the lead cast gelled together and made the movie special.
Having said that, there were two or three members of the cast that did not convince me as a critic with their performances and I would advise that they keep practicing to perfect their acts. When an actor acts and it is clear that they have crammed their lines, it makes the movie move from being natural to artificial. My role as a movie critic and reviewer is not to bring people down, but to push them so that they can be better.
Let me start with the doctor. Personally, I would not have cast him for that role because to me, it was just as if he had crammed his lines and was giving it back. Apart from Michelle and in some cases Sandra, the other people that played the roles of prostitutes did not push enough. They did not convince me that they were street girls. I think they were in their shells and needed to push more. Finally, Kenechi’s dad to me most of his scenes did not act. Again, I definitely would not have cast him for that role. At the end, where he died, I think he over exaggerated, what was that for.
If people want to grow in this industry as actors and actresses, they need to read the script through, they need to research the role and they need to keep practicing especially in front of people who can tell them to their face that they are not pulling their weights. If this is done, even acting with your mirror as your audience with time the best would come out of the actors.
On the whole, I would like to commend the entire cast and crew for a good effort.
Picture Quality: The cinematography for this movie was generally good. There were no shaky pictures and generally pictures were within their so frames. I don’t have much to say about the picture quality. Was satisfactory and I am happy.
Sound Quality: For a Nollywood movie, I am happy that the sound was good and there was no external interference. Again, I had no real concerns with the sound.
Overall performance: Overall, in spite of my little critics, the film was a very good movie. It was comical and I personally enjoyed it. People kept laughing and gave a big applause after the movie. However, as a critic and reviewer, I am fastidious and see little things other people may not see. Kenechi’s dad was on the phone to the police at a stage in his house and I saw a sign saying toilets not toilet which immediately told me that was not someone’s house but probably a hotel. (I stand to be corrected). Little things like this matter and post production is critical.
I introduced myself to Omoni before the movie and told her what I do. She was so confident of the movie and that my review would be positive. She was so confident that I was hoping I would have disappoint her with my review, but having watched it, how can I? I would say a big well done to Omoni and her team, her cast and the crew for a job well done!
The question remains if I would recommend this movie. There are some movies I need to think well before answering but in this case, it is simple. As a reviewer and critic, and without a doubt and without any fear, I would recommend this movie. I would go watch it again with friends if it comes to cinemas in the UK.
Once more well done to the team
Watch the trailer: