Movie review: ‘Letters to my mother’ is bad, unbearable at times

by Wilfred Okiche

Letter to my mother movie

A psychiatrist (Adjetey Annang) travels miles on invitation to consult in the puzzling case of a dangerous prisoner, incarcerated for committing an unspeakable crime. It is a Ghanaian film so you can trust that even though the case has supposedly defeated other experts prior to this good doctor’s intervention, he is sure to crack it at first consult. Which is exactly what happens.

The patient/prisoner played with utter insignificance by John Dumelo hasn’t spoken a word in 5 years and does nothing but scribble on anything he can get his hands on. He has consumed numerous reams of paper and takes to writing on the wall when he is done. Don’t ask how a prisoner is left with a potentially dangerous instrument like writing material, again it’s a Ghanaian film.

It does not take the whizkid doctor long to decipher the incoherent scribblings as letters Mike (Dumelo) writes to his mother. And so begins the unraveling of the tale, told in flashbacks.

Mike travels abroad and returns with a bride from his mother’s past whom his mother despises on sight and vows never to accept. He does not understand why and since mama isn’t telling, he cuts her out of their lives, setting up a series of bizarre and unfortunate events in the process.

How bad is letters to my mother? It is bad, unbearable at times even.

It attempts taking the angle of a suspense thriller but falls flat immeditely. The story could have worked in another screenplay, helmed by another director and cast with different actors.

The acting is the first thing that unnerves you. Terrible in it’s D-movieness, any director satisfied with such ludicrousness has no clue what he is doing. Everyone is bad, it’s disastrous. John Dumelo who must have done only 2 good movies his entire career is in familiar territory here. While he isn’t the worst culprit here, he is the biggest star and fails to bring any life or compassion to his Mike. The worst comes from the female actors.

Kafui Danku who plays his fiance and femme fatale calls to mind a third rate Martha Ankomah and a salvageable performance could have been squeezed out of her by a determined director. Pascal Amanfo isn’t that person and so is just content to let her read her lines non-commitedly.

The queen of non-commited line reading has to be Paulina Oduro the lady who plays his mother. Possessing the Ghollywood-preferred qualities of fair skinned and pretty with little talent to match, she ruins what little hope the film has of catching interest with her pallid delivery. She turns an otherwise intriguing character into a sad mess. There are more bad actors but enough has been said.

Pacing works well and sets viewers up for a sizzling reveal but when it comes, again it is nothing to write home about. It is like everything one has watched previously just leads to a few lines of half-hearted explanatory dialogue. And the climactic bloody seen, what was that all about really? Hiss.

Plot holes abound, loose ends are untied and if one really cares to, they can predict at least 70 percent of what is sure to ensue. Alas it is hard to care anything about this mess.

You’d be wise to skip this one but if you insist on seeing it like the two other folks in the theatre I saw it with, blame yourself for the after effects.

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