Film Review of the film Relentless by Andy Amadi Okoroafor
Hollywood actor Jimmy jean-louis, music star Nneka and Nollywood star Gideon Okeke
Relentless is a film directed by the Nigerian, born Paris based director, Andy Amadi Okaroafor. It’s a film about a Nigerian peace keeping soldier in war-torn Sierra Leone, whose life is devastated when he finds his fiancée mutilated by child soldiers. On his return to Lagos-Nigeria after the war, he falls in love with a prostitute, and finds himself thrust back into the dark world he hoped he had left in the past.
This is Andy Okaroafor’s debut film as a director, haven worked in Paris for many years as a very successful creative in advertisement, music videos, and fashion. As you would expect from someone of Andy’s experience, Relentless is a beauty of a film, you are treated to a 91 min visual fest of colour and texture and rich sounds which depicts an imagery of Nigeria that is not just believable but most importantly real.
One of the scene which is a joy to watch is were Obi the lead actor goes on a random midnights walk in Lagos and meets with a high class prostitute played by the musician Nneka, the scene was beautifully shot, the richness and detail in the night scene celebrated Andy artistry as a visual story teller.
However, there is only so long beautiful imagery in a film can sustain an audience before basic questions are asked, like what’s the story about? And when you succeed in figuring this out, a new question quickly comes to fore, has to why it took so long to narrate the story.
This wasn’t helped by the fact the Nigerian popular musician Nneka who played the lead actress gave an unmemorable performance. The passion and personality we have come to know Nneka for through her music just wasn’t there in her acting.
What was even more frustrating was Hollywood star, Jimmy Jean-Louis’ performance, he played the character of a young politician, but other than being a celebrity signpost, he didn’t really add much else to the film.
He appeared in one or two scenes at the end of the film even though his character was central to the film’s storyline. The little screen time given to Jean-Louis’ character made me question why he was in the film in the first place.
I came away from the film screening of Relentless not knowing what to make of the whole experience, I felt the director focused to much on the look of the film and the publicity he could derived from casting celebrity in the film. He however, crucially didn’t pay significant attention to the script and how the characters will work together to achieve a believable story experience.
The film is sold as being about loneliness, love and self-discovery, though am not sure if this themes came across clearly.
Andy’ Relentless is still one I will recommend to you, even if just for its aesthetics. Andy is certainly on my list of African filmmakers to watch, and if he partners with a talented writer or writers on future projects, then brilliant films can only be expected from this stylish filmmaker.
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