SYLVIA MOVIE REVIEW
By Morris Abdul Newton
Dir: Daniel Oriahi
Starring: Chris Attoh, Zainab Balogun, Ini Dima-Okoie, Udoka Oyeka, Ijeoma Grace Agu,Lord Frank, Bolaji Ogunmola, Omotunde Adebowale-David.
In the past one year, it’s been hard, really hard to find a Nigerian movie with outstanding positives to endorse. I tell you all right now; it’s been really hard.
Then along came the ‘Sylvia’ trailer and it seemed there was something there. But my instinct kicked in and reminded me of all the times that I had watched trailers that excited me only to go to the cinema and emerge like a person “jammed by heavy trailers.” So, my resolve was that they weren’t going to get me this time.
‘Sylvia’ I went to watch with only a bit of hope that something good could come out of this. I knew the writer, Director and the producer and felt that this could be good one cos after all, I know the stuff they are made of but that didn’t mean that… You know.
Okay. So, Richard Okezie decides to leave Sylvia, his lifelong imaginary friend and lover, for Gbemisola – a flesh-and-blood real woman. However, dangerous complications arise when Sylvia decides to ferociously take back the man she feels is hers.
Family and friends, on this movie; Sound is beautiful, Picture is beautiful, Musical score is beautiful, Writing is beautiful, Directing is beautiful, Acting is beautiful, Production is beautiful, SYLVIA IS BEAUTIFUL. Zainab Balogun as Sylvia beautiful is beautiful. It must be noted that the chemistry between the actors was pristine enough throughout the movie. But that wasn’t all… It just couldn’t be all.
The scene where Richard (Chris Attoh) lost his mom and told Sylvia amidst tears that the potion she gave him didn’t work was spurned well. In that scene she kissed him just before he woke up. What we didn’t see was his reaction to the kiss when he woke up. That could have been made a bitter sweet scene. Why? Because he really liked the kiss in the dream and showing that when he woke up would have been dramatic especially when the reality of his mother being dead hits. Really an actor’s moment… was lost anyway.
Two scenes notably stood out for me. The scene at the bar where Richard first told his best friend, Obaro (Udoka Oyeka) about Gbemisola was good. It was quite natural even when they played with the sexuality thing. Cool.
The other was the double date – restaurant scene. The colours, dynamics, blockings and the ladies were beautiful. Ini Dima Okojie as Gbemisola has never looked this radiant anywhere. A note though, it was just an overkill to have Gbemisola invite her teacher friend, “Cynthia” to a double date. It just didn’t work for me anyway. There was nothing wrong with Cynthia showing up and then she realizes that she is the same person she has been telling her husband about. You’ll probably have to see the movie to understand this.
I thought the pictures were sort of lifeless and dour despite been good and clear enough. A little bit more life probably would have upped the mood at some points but then it all probably all boils down to that surreal styling that the movie was about.
The time jumps were key and I thought were done sweetly. How they moved from Richard meeting Gbemi for the first time to them being married and doing their thing – sweet and swift… It was good.
But there were certain loopholes where characters weren’t available. After Obaro proposed to Cynthia aka Sylvia, we went off our screens for a long stretch of time. That wasn’t good for our senses considering that this is a lady he loves. If he probably had gone for some work, it would probably have been better.
By the way, what is Zainab Balogun’s thing with hibiscus flowers? This is the second movie where the ‘hibiscus’ thing is a strong part of the theme.
Finally, let’s take a look at the two of my biggest issues with Sylvia. The African/Nigerian element was largely missing. In the African context, the family is never taken out. This made Sylvia look and feel a lot like some Hollywood movies. The African story finds some of its depth in family well depicted. Gbemisola looked like a lost child that fell out of nowhere. No family, friend, nothing.
Secondly, where did Sylvia originate from? In reality’s context, there are easy explanations that could have been incorporated to lay a quick explanation. For instance, imagine if Richard’s mother had pledged her only child to a goddess before his birth and his encounters with Sylvia being the result. It doesn’t really make sense birthing Richard’s encounters with Sylvia in isolation. This is Africa. Even Hollywood tells us where some of these mysterious happening in their thrillers come from or how they started.
Read Also: Reviews of Royal Hibiscus Hotel movie
I believe the texture of the movie wouldn’t have changed if these seemingly little but very important elements had been infused.
The Nurse (Bolaji Ogunmola) was costumed a bit off. How did nobody drool in that place? How? Atleast if that was the intent. Things are not done in isolation in films. *side eye* Also, the attempt at humour when Omotunde Adebowale-David aka Lolo’s character came in to meet with Richard and was told off by his P.A, Hawa (Ijeoma Grace Agu) was rendered irrelevant when it didn’t bear any useful fruit at any point in the movie later on. It turned out as just an attempt at humour as that beef was not used for anything really. Film is about action and reaction, not planting of irrelevant scenes or elements.
Having said all these, the production has to be commended for the professionalism involved. It’s a good movie. Hopes are that it will make the good bucks at the cinemas as long as Nigerians don’t follow the trend of not going to see anything that is not relatively funny.
Mental illness, hibiscus flowers, symbolism, spiritual husband and wife, thriller, lack of deliverance – whatever it is – it was a good show.
Finally, Vanessa wrote a good one, Daniel directed a good film. 365 days and finally I can tell you all about a Nollywood movie worth top cash.