Dare Olaitan’s debut is proof Nollywood is not suffering nor has it ever suffered from a lack of acting talent. What the industry has persistently upheld is a disappointing lack of material that allows talent to be nourished. Hands up if you can lose count of how many good Nollywood features you have seen.
I sense no hands raised.
Ojukokoro (subtitled, Greed) is a fitting title for a film exploring the effects of interlocking greed. Most of it takes place at the nonfictional LUBCON petrol station over the course of a day. This guy wants to steal from his filthy rich bosses. This other guy wants to steal from another filthy rich boss. This guy promises another guy he can steal from a filthy rich boss and they can split the booty. Poor rich bosses.
Olaitan’s film is invested in the lives of its characters. In our time when cinema is preoccupied with being alternative or saving the world from CGI, the stakes in Ojukokoro have enough weight and realism to engage an investment from the audience.
Although Ojukokoro is obviously about greed and human nature a larger examination of the film can be seen as a documentarian perspective on the average Nigerian life. It features scenes that silently reflect the real and daily realities of living and suffering as unapologetically as most Nigerians do: The bloody competition for a bag of money, the cadence between co-workers, the eagerness for free food and the linguistic buffet. It is a truly fun thing to watch the characters switch between Yoruba, Hausa, Pidgin and English. The viewer is advised to abandon the subtitles and really sink into the dialogue.
Unfortunately this is all the promise the film holds. It is the saddest kind of irony that something so well scripted ended up with a cinematography that lacks comparison to anything as bad in recent memory. There are scenes rife with unpreparedness chiefly the ones featuring Emmanuel Ikubese as the accountant. If filters of light are meant to heighten the sense of being on drugs, we need new people behind the cameras. Fortunately it does no real harm to the ensemble performance of which Shawn Faqua’s Rambo should be kept for preservation. Notable performance highlights also include Wale Ojo’s Mad Dog Max. The few females in the film suffer one sided fates. Do better next time guys.
The film’s editing also inadequate is not as messy as the camerawork. And towards the film’s ending, the script also becomes too self-involved for its own good and achieves the cinematic equivalent of circle jerking. As if the director was on purpose trying to undo all the good work of the past one hundred minutes by creating a neat ending that happened to be interesting and intriguing.
Film lovers, it is to our detriment if Ojukokoro is the brilliant renaissance in Nollywood we have been looking for. The reactions to this movie bolster the Nigerian half-full mentality that glorifies incompetence and encourages the spirit of managing things as long as one of the parts works well enough. While there are inarguably great things about the movie namely the script and acting, but nothing else in the execution of Ojukokoro deserves screen time. As our people say, fix it Jesus.
Dare Olaitan has proven himself bankable, because he has successfully walked the fine line between intelligence and accessibility in a film that is smart and humorous and teaches many lessons. Investors, please give him money so he can hire a quality technical team for his next feature. Looking forward to it.
From us at Sodas ‘N’ Popcorn HQ, Ojukokoro earns a Popcorn and Hotdog.
Have you seen the movie? What are your thoughts if you have? Share in the comment box below.
This review is written by Alithnayn