Directed By: Desmond Elliot, Niyi Akinmolaran (Asst Director)
Written by: Uduak Isong Oguamanam, Kehinde Joseph and Vivian Chiji
Produced By: Emem Isong.
Starring: Clarion Chukwurah, Kanayo O.Kanayo, Belinda Effah, Mbong Amata, and Millicent Jack
A moving story of one woman’s quest to succeed against the odds. Inspired by true events, ‘Apaye’ is the story of Elder Irene Yepayeye Uriah, who struggled and toiled to provide for her family and to make sure they enjoyed a life that she never had.
I had long avoided the movie Apaye, probably because my movie instincts warned but I never listened. Anyways, it’s been seen, the harm has been done and I am not sorry to say Apaye is far from being an impressive movie. What exactly made this 1 hour 30 mins movie so unbearable and endless for me I had to check my time over 8 times (yep. I was counting)?
The movie begins with a poor woman and two of her kids arriving at the home of Apaye, a respected woman in the community to seek financial assistance for the kids. Apaye (Clarion Chukwurah) sits the woman down and assures her everything will be fine and begins to tell her own story in a bid to convince the woman that she had equally gone through a lot in her life.
This movie had everything good going for it from the award winning script writers, to an award winning Director and an impressive budget. It’s almost like it was intentionally made with the vast amount of loopholes in it.
Apaye is a carelessly written piece which shows very little job done in researching a great woman’s life and does poorly in giving a befitting biopic to the now late woman. There were irrelevant scenes such as the scene from the forest where very young Apaye was humming a tune and meets a woman who disappears (ofcourse Apaye doesn’t show any element of surprise, she just keeps walking on and singing). The scene suddenly gets transformed to a church with a choir singing the tune being hummed in the forest. Call me slow, but I didn’t see the value of that in the story.
There were poorly developed scenes such as soldiers not being able to break down the door of a ‘hut’. Dear writers, we know you were trying to help the characters you love so dearly escape through the back window before the soldiers made it into the room, but there could have been a better way to execute that, right?
Apaye’s daughter got pregnant but we never hear about it again through out the movie. Poof! Just like that, its gone. We were never told if she aborted the child, if she lost the child or gave away the child. By the way, what happened to Apaye’s cousin(Emma’s second wife) after the Biafran war? Important characters and events like this in a movie shouldn’t be lost like a Malaysian plane without some explanations from the script writers.
Apaye was obviously about the woman and her children. Why didn’t the children get more character development? We see them fight, we see them play, we see them argue all together, but we never see them give standalone solid performances on their own. If we were to be touched by the movie as the script writers intended, the secret to that was in the characters. But with a poorly done job such as this, every scene where I should have been crying only made me either laugh or shake my head. I was almost a nuisance to the couple beside me (thank God, somebody was enjoying the movie). Let’s not even talk about the dialogues. It was like scripts were glued to the faces of actors and characters were reading their lines off the faces.
I could go on about the flaws the movie had, but I guess my point should be clear already. Some reading this might think the flaws are little and should be overlooked and probably, the mistakes don’t count, but for a movie that already has 6 AMAA nominations under its belt, it either shows the quality of films being made in Nollywood or the standard of movies being submitted to the awards. It’s high time Nollywood scaled past this so called little mistakes, because we are only ruining out shots at standing on world stages and attracting the right investors to our industry.
As much as I love some of Desmond’s movies, I get confused a lot by his works. 2 Desmond Elliot movies from 2013 featured on Sodas & Popcorn’s Top 10 Nollywood Movies Of 2013 and they were really good. Same Desmond Elliot had 2 of his movies on Our Worst movies of the year. It’s pretty sure this movie has made it into the later list for 2014.
Reports have it that Emem Isong was given 55 million naira to make this movie. We have often blamed lack of resources and investors for the many poorly made Nollywood movies. This is understandable, but how do we defend a movie with this kind of budget. What exactly went wrong?
The character development, script writing and directing reflected nothing of the budget reportedly dropped for this movie. Only good thing about this movie in my opinion was the make up, costume design and the filming location.
Some flaws I spotted in the technicalities in the movie included the unnecessary fast forward dolly effects accompanied with some irritating sound effects. I guess this was supposed to enhance the scenes but in the end, it ruined them for me. We are not Bollywood you know.
Why couldn’t a new born baby or a doll or something have been gotten to depict Apaye’s first child? Why was a child that looked almost 2 years of age used? Very tall child like that! Why was Apaye, played by Belinda Effah as a young lady speaking queen’s English? Aterall she never went to school and grew up in the Bayelsa Creek. Even Idris Elba who looks nothing like Mandela and sounded nothing like him had to train his voice to sound like him. Or should we talk about Daniel Day Lewis’s performances as Butcher in Martin Scorsese’s Gangs Of NewYork( deep voiced) and Steven Spielberg’s Abraham Lincoln(soft cracked voice)?
Rumors have it that Clarion was paid 10 million naira for this movie. Well, all I can say is why? She gave a few good performances in the movie, but her acting was very scripted. We know it’s a biopic but do you have to face the camera to tell a story like ‘Tales By Moon Light’?
None of Apaye’s children, except Mbong Amata gave an impressive performance. The scene by the river where she was going to Port Harcourt was the biggest laugh I had. One of her sons was chewing gum while the others were crying (extremely fake tears by the way)
Kanayo O Kanayo, Mbong Amata and Belinda Effah were mostly impressive to me and gave satisfactory performances.
Bluntly, nothing impressed me about this movie. This movie is so bad, nothing amazed me about a great woman’s life. A story about a woman who raises 6 kids in Niger Delta and experiences the civil war should be more impressive than Pursuit Of Happyness. But this is just a laugh out loud joke. Sadly, I see this movie winning an award or two. Sigh.
It ‘manages’ to get a Traffic Popcorn.
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Review by @don_sylvestre
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