KPALI MOVIE REVIEW
By Morris Abdul Newton
Dir: Ladipo Johnson
Starring: Ini Dima-Okojie, Torin Pocock, Nkem Owoh, Linda Ejiofor-Suleiman, Kunle Remi, Gloria Anozie-Young, Uzor Arukwe, Ik Osakioduwa, Seyi Law.
Amaka Kalayor is a Nigerian investment professional working with a firm in London. The firm is on the verge of downsizing their workforce and in other not to get fired alongside the others, she needs to close a massive deal in Nigeria for the company in 30 days or lose her job, her visa and her work permit. Generally, her Kpali i.e. the right to live and work in the UK.
That is not all that this Emem Ema produced movie is all about though. Amaka (Ini Dima-Okojie) is also faced with the typical parental syndrome of urging their child that is sort of advanced in age to get married.
Though the second part of the plot is cliché and similar to the plot of the movie ‘Isoken’, it still adds to the set up of an okay story as the first part differentiates the storyline. However, that similarity stemming from the fact that this one also involves a Caucasian character vying for the hand of the maiden is hard to ignore.
To the nitty-gritty of the film – It would have made more sense if Jake hunter (Torin Pocock) was introduced earlier in the scene abroad. The whole idea of Amaka’s immediate boss, Jeremy, not showing up at the airport leaving Jake to replace him as Amaka’s partner/senior rep to Nigeria was flimsily done. This is one of the fulcrums of this movie and yet it wasn’t as much attention as it was supposed to. There was no conflict between the two like was verbally communicated as if it were there. They seemed so chummy and that was the beginning of the flatness that is this movie. I kept asking myself if Jake was supposed to be this soft? Is he not supposed to be her boss? Is he not supposed to be a bit older? Is he not supposed to be some sort of haughty? What if Jake was pompous and didn’t really like this girl? What if the reason he is that way is because of his past? What if one of the reasons he doesn’t like her is because he thinks she’s not good enough and she ends up proving herself? What if he didn’t want to come to Nigeria and he doesn’t really like the country. Amaka would have had her work well cut out with the deal she is supposed to broker without the experience and support of the person they sent with her. Taken all or some of these into consideration would have offered us a different kind of movie, but that wasn’t our experience. This is one of the major reasons the move turned out wishy-washy. Apart from work, I earnestly searched for the personal conflicts in this movie and couldn’t find any.
Sure, there are laughs in ‘Kpali’. Nkem Owoh and his co casts sure delivered some of those laughs in character, but they surely knew that wasn’t what this was about. There was supposed to be way more.
Apart from the major issues with the story and the obvious lack of play on its angles, the picture felt a bit surreal. It wasn’t that the picture was bad. It was just that it wasn’t spectacular. Sound also experienced a bit of difficulty at some point but it was generally good.
Other issues stemmed from character portrayals. It’s a wonder how Jake quickly started enjoying the Nigerian meals that caused him to use the restroom often when he landed in Nigeria. The passage of time as displayed on screen didn’t do justice to any concept in this film. Also, there was that Patrick Dante’s character (Kelechi). The character was weak and inconsequential. Amaka’s parents telling them to know each other is extra ridiculous. More ridiculous is how she went on and sat with Kelechi leaving Jake all by himself and later coming back to him after managing to get away from Kelechi with some flimsy excuse as if she never knew that she shouldn’t have sat with him in the first place.
Most of the problems in this movie looks set in foundation and final execution. If the conflicts weren’t proper on the script, we all know that will be the number one problem but I really saw bad execution of a movie with ‘Kpali’. All the weaknesses shone through. The movie is annoyingly disjointed. Especially the romantic sequences. All that ‘Kunle Remi’ love interest bits were just a charade and still not an elaborate one as the film really served up nothing memorable in the end. There was no sort of rivalry between her two (love) interests. None, whatsoever.
Nothing about any of her relationships was real or even acknowledged properly. Jake’s, for instance, was downplayed because the filmmakers wanted a twist at the end that didn’t fly anyway.
In this movie, it wasn’t casting that was bad; it was most likely writing, directing, acting and even costuming. Proper knowledge of film making would have really helped this film deviate from looking like a very bad impostor.