Can Stella Damasus make a great comeback in her new movie ‘Between’?

If you are yet to hear about Stella Damasus’ new movie Between, it’s because there hasn’t been a huge marketing drive around the film. Damasus is one of Nollywood’s top-tier actresses who, interestingly, hasn’t been pushed to the margins by the industry’s young, exciting pool of talents. In fact, Between should be that movie wherein she makes a comeback since starring in 2015’s Affairs of the Heart.

The season of comebacks has had Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde and Genevieve Nnaji give us Alter Ego and Lionheart respectively. And although these aren’t perfect movies, moreso for Alter Ego which uses its cringeworthy sex scenes as a sales pitch, Jalade-Ekeinde and Nnaji have shown us that they are still very much in the game. Between is directed by Damasus’ husband Daniel Ademinokan, but first let me quickly get this off my chest: the movie’s promotional poster looks bland and cluttered, and not even good for the marketing momentum of the film, if any.

By contrast, the trailer is good, meaning I didn’t cringe and the plot was well-understood. Damasus’ voice can be heard through a narrative voice over, and the shots look clean, tidy, with nothing superfluous. Set in Atlanta, Damasus plays Chelsea Hollis, a thirty-something successful workaholic who has been through four divorces. She helps couples fix their relationship issues but she’s disillusioned about love. She is, and perhaps most importantly, a feminist.

In the trailer, she calls out the double standard that praises and burnishes the egos of men when they are promiscuous, but castigates women when they do the same. I like that a movie with a Nollywood actress as the lead (the cast is predominantly white), is smart enough to highlight slut-shaming culture as problematic. The movie’s logline: ”When loving the right person is so wrong” indicates a romantic arc. Damasus and Travis Grenier, the archetypically handsome actor, have a one night stand. The next morning, Damasus as Hollis is clinically, emotionally blank that she explains to Grenier’s character that they had fun, it’s now over, and thus she wants him out of her house.

Ordinarily, it always plays out as the woman clinging to the man after sex and ”catching feelings” but in Between, there’s a shift in dynamic. In another scene, Hollis feels threatened as anyone would when an intruder invades their house. Is this what the movie meant by when loving the right person is so wrong? Did Grenier’s character try to attack her when she rejected him? It would make a lot of sense if the movie goes towards the direction, and hence evoking the zeitgeist wherein women are maimed, murdered, and continually harassed when they reject the advances of men. Sidenote: Grenier is dashingly hot, so he would make a good killer.

Between is billed to have its London screening on April 12, and Damasus is aware of what’s at stake – that this is her comeback movie and that we are all watching and hoping she exceeds our expectations. Can she do it? After the London screening, Between heads to California and then hits cinemas in Nigeria. I’d like to see Damasus shine.

 

 

 

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