There is no shortage of films- Nollywood, Hollywood and beyond- that trace the dramatic unravelling of the family, nuclear or extended. The larger, the trashier, the better. Cue in the mandatory lunch or dinner scene where tongues let loose, secrets come tumbling out and weaves get snatched.
The family drama is so dependably regular that it may well have morphed into a sub-genre of film. From Lagos with Love, a romantic drama directed by Tola Odunsi and written by Dami Elebe (Skinny Girl in Transit) is a trivial, forgettable addition to the canon.
The multicultural Pedro family is at the center of From Lagos with Love. Headed by Shaffy Bello and Bimbo Manuel, the clan is gathered over the Yuletide season for a week-long reunion. The kids- played by Funke Kuti, Enado Odigie, Sharon Ooja and John Oga- have all flown the coop but they make it down to Lagos to sit politely through tension filled updates of their lives. Naturally they all have issues they would rather not share with family.
To the surprise of no one anywhere, most of these issues are tangled romantic relationships.
The eldest of the kids is going through a rough patch in her marriage, compounded by a philandering husband. The youngest sister is a bubbly airhead, recently engaged and uninterested in any feelings that aren’t hers or her hubby’s. The middle sister still suffers from the bitter after effects of a failed relationship and isn’t above taking it out on anyone who comes close.
And the only son, Tunde? Well he had to bring home to mama, a fiancée much older than him, an actress named Sam, played by Damilola Adegbite. Of course, mama isn’t having any of it.
All of these mini tidbits are forced together in a warm, saccharine sweet brew that overflows at the Christmas dinner. Melodrama is dialed to the highest number. Words are traded, some regrettable, most banal. Swords are sheathed only until the next major bust up comes up. And From Lagos with Love has one in store it round every corner.
For a film with Lagos in its title, there is precious little of the city on display. True, Ambode’s Lagos, overrun with filth as it is, is hardly a postcard perfect choice for a glamorous location shoot. But for Odunsi’s film, most of the drama happens in controlled interior locations, perhaps for practical reasons. Exterior shots present are composed of the usual boring establishment shots, The Lekki-Ikoyi link bridge, the 1004 housing estate etc.
There is really not much to write home about From Lagos with Love.
Odunsi’s direction is basic and terribly unexciting. Sound issues creep up when the director thinks he has hit a home run. The actors are pretty and serviceable but could all use a little more coaching. Screenplay is uneven, dialogue heavy and packs in so much cheap melodrama that audiences will either love it or be turned off, especially when the lazy clichés begin to roll in. From Lagos with Love is the bare minimum, enlivened by pretty locations and an attractive cast.
Nothing new to see.
Wilfred Okiche is a medic, reader, writer, journalist, culture critic, and occasional ruffler of feathers. One of the most influential critics working in the Nigerian culture space, his writing has appeared extensively in platforms like YNaija.com and 360nobs.com. Okiche has provided editorial assistance to the UK Guardian and has had his work published in African Arguments, Africa is a Country and South Africa’s City Press. He has received trainings and acquired experience in multimedia and online journalism. He also appears on the culture television show, Africana Literati. He has participated at critic programs in Lagos, Durban and Rotterdam.