by Wilfred Okiche
One has to admit, Nollywood has been making an effort these days and actress/producer Omoni Oboli has been working harder than most. After a relatively lowkey 2013, one spent moving from one film location to the other, she rebounds in 2014 with 3 back to back releases. And it’s just the first half of the year. ‘Deep inside’ was a fiasco, but ‘Brother’s Keeper’ is definitely more promising.
Oboli plays Mena, the dutiful wife of Chude (Majid Michel) a business man who is out of sorts, following the loss of his identical twin brother (also Majid Michel) and nephew under tragic circumstances. He becomes withdrawn, distant and seeks comprehension in the arms of his late brother’s girlfriend (Beverly Naya) much to the chagrin of his wealthy soignee mother (Barbara Soky).
As Nollywood films go, ‘Brother’s Keeper’ is a decent attempt. It will not win any awards for originality of presentation but it tells a compelling story of grief and loss and then juices things up by throwing in a murder-mystery into the mix.
The screenplay written by Omoni Oboli could have been a breath of fresh air but it sports too many redundant scenes, especially in the first half. Time goes by slowly and the director wastes a lot of time setting up his premise. A lot of unnecessary scenes and uninspired conversations between characters bog down the first half but by the second half, things pick up considerably.
Brother’s keeper also suffers from insufficient lightning. A lot of the scenes are either set in the night or have a dark shadow cast. Directed by Ikechukwu Onyeka, there is no particular skill to his direction. His strong suit seems to be convincing winning performances out of his actors. Or maybe not. There is an obvious disparity in the depth of performances turned in by the experienced actors, compared to the minor characters. While Oboli, Michel and Soky are capable, dependable players, the same cannot be said for the supporting actors who struggle most of the time to get their emotions across.
Majid Michel has a lot of heavy lifting to do and he discharges his duties credibly. Same for Ms Oboli, a natural performer who grounds the film with its emotional core. Towards the end, she is a bit overwhelmed when called upon to vamp it up a bit but she puts inthe work. The veteran Barbara Soky brightens up the screen in a role that is essentially the token mother-in-law routine. One that finds her at her best when she is not emoting unnecessarily.
The first half of the film is flat and audiences may find it a chore investing any sort of attachment. The sense of purpose picks up midway and is sustained to the thrilling finale which must have been the producers’ piece de resistance.
‘Brother’s Keeper’ is proof that actors can be so much better if they have better material to work with as well as capable hands guiding them. It is not the best film you will see at the cinemas but it gets a C for effort.