by Willfred Okiche
Emem Isong’s Royal Arts Academy inspires different emotions in different people. While some loyalists believe that presently, the best movies in Nollywood are those bearing the Royal Arts emblem, others may beg to differ, insisting that baring one or two exceptions, their movies are as hollow as the regular Nollywood pile. Whichever side of the divide you belong, you will definitely agree that Emem and co have mastered the art of packaging. The end product of their movies always come out polished to a shiny gloss (recall the fanfare that accompanied the ‘Kiss & Tell’ release) with attractive posters and tie-ins.
‘Timeless Passion’ tells the story of a hot young widow (Monalisa Chinda) who returns to the country with her kids from their base in the UK (keep reading and you will discover the reason for the UK emphasis) to bury her husband but is trapped by her late husband’s relatives and their obnoxious traditional customs. Her sister-in-law in particular ‘has it in’ for her and endeavours to make her life unbearable. She soon cries out to God (of course) and help comes in the form of a dashing young man(Ramsey Nouah) who may or may not be who he claims to be.
As Nollywood flicks go, this one is better than most but not by much as it barely scrapes through. The story is engaging and has decent prospects but somewhere between the screenplay and the finished product, a lot was missed. An Uche Alex Moore is credited for the editing but they missed out a lot of errors. Apart from the forgivable grammatical errors, a decent, albeit cheezy script is marred by some glaring inconsistencies; like at the end of the movie where Monalisa tells Ramsey’s character to move back with her to the ‘States’. States? Also the cutting and joining was not neat.
The acting reveals no big surprises; Monalisa in her usual sassy role, Ramsey; dependable as always, Uche Jombo is still overly dramatic, Susan Peters is still underutilized and Desmond Elliott should have sat this one out and stuck with the directing. Respite comes however in the form of seeing diva Barbra Soki on screen once again. She plays the mandatory mother-in-law role but in her few scenes teaches her younger colleagues a thing or two about acting. Chisom Oz-lee is also believable as the frustrated sister-in-law but she spent a lot of screen time doing the same thing.
Picture quality was fine but sound was not. The actors kept screaming at terrible highs or whispering at annoying lows. One character’s voice was dubbed over the recording, perhaps for clarity but the result was a disjointed mess. You keep fiddling with your remote control all through the movie. Don’t even get me started on the special effects at the end of the film.
This one does not make a case for Royal Arts dishing out the best movies but it proves that even when they make questionable films, they are still a step above the rest of the pack. Just wish that they would make one movie that guys can at least pretend to enjoy.