Movie Review: Kunle Afolayan's Highly Anticipated October One

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The last morning of a holiday is a strange period: long enough to mull over the things you didn’t get around to doing, but too short to actually do them. But there was no way I was resuming work without watching the much talked about October One.

So let’s get down to it:

Set in 1960, October One is a dark psychological thriller that tells the story of a Northern Nigerian Police Detective, Dan Waziri (played by the legendary Sadiq Daba) who is dispatched by the Colonial Government to the trading post town of Akote in the Western Region of Nigeria to solve a series of female murders that have struck horror in the hearts and minds of the local community before the Nigerian independence on October One 1960.

My fear generally with movies that combine real life historical events with fiction is how smooth the blend between fact and fiction will be as was the case with Hollywood’s Lee Daniel’s The Butler. And like The Butler did a great job merging fact with fiction, so also did Kunle Afolayan’s October One. In an industry that hasn’t even gotten the execution of fiction or fact right in most of the movies it makes, seasoned Script writer Tunde Babalola gives a brilliant script which thankfully falls into the right hands of Kunle Afolayan.

Originally named Dust as revealed by Toni Kan in an interview with Afolayan, the movie was renamed October One because the story evokes anticipation and suspense from almost every character in the movie which I agree was a better choice of name for these reasons. But more importantly, October One was a perfect title because of its brilliant marketing strategy and relevance to the Country’s independence. Big kudos to the team for its publicity strategy.

October One reveals the killer half way into the movie, confirming the suspicions we had right from the beginning. My first reaction was that of disappointment and an impending backlash until I sat back to understand that hiding the killer wasn’t the real motive of the movie, but finding out the reason for the killer’s lunacy.

Never the less, I personally feel a watchful eye would have discovered who the killer was from the trailer alone as I did and that could have been hidden a little bit.

If there is anything I enjoyed the most in this movie, and no, it wasn’t the overenthusiastic/downright hilarious Inspector Afonja (Kayode Olaiya), it was the cinematography. Production designer, Pat Nebo and Cinematographer Yinka Edwards definitely delivered what I will consider the best work of art in Nigerian cinematic history. The lighting in the Forrest were, permit me to use the word, Epic. The introduction of Kanayo O Kanayo’s character even though he was hidden in plain sight gave me goose pimples and the entire cinema erupted in an applause at his reveal.

I have to take a minute to marvel at Afolayan’s movie making prowess. He obviously had clear vision for what he set out to achieve and pushed his cast to give the best possible performance you could expect from them. From Sadiq Daba’s impeccable performance and showing that wine gets better with age to the devious love triangle between the arrogant and equally charming Prince Aderopo played by talented newbie Demola Adedoyin whose skill made it look like he has been around for a really long time. The oblivious Miss Tawa played by Kehinde Bankole) was also impressive and the poster boy for adult insecurity, Headmaster Olaitan played by Abiodun Aleja.

The glory of the film however is in the fact that the story is not afraid to go there: explore the timeless themes of religion, ethnic rifts, corruption, abuse, pain and privilege.

The film plays for 2 hours but there is enough suspense and laugh-till-your-sides-hurt humor to keep you at the edge of your seat.

Another impressive bit of execution in the movie was the attention to detail. The costumes and set designs were very deliberately done (a lot of people who were present in the 60’s should be able to identify with the scenery while the new Generation would get a feel of what it was like to exist in such a place and time.

The movie does have its flaws: Like how Agbekoya might have broken way too easily in letting out the grand confession and how the part of Ms. Olufunmi Ransome Kuti (Played by Deola Sagoe) who we know was a staunch historical figure ended up being a cheap waka pass or placement for the designer. Also, the stunts in the movie could have been better executed, But we are impressed enough to glide over these things.

You know a film is good when Nigerian’s (tough crowd) unanimously begin to slow clap in honor of money well spent. The voice of the people is the voice of God so from us at Sodas & Popcorn the movie gets a solid Popcorn and Soda.Sodas-Popcorn-Rating4

This review is written by Terver and M.Y.