Omoni Oboli’s THE FIRST LADY – a triumphant fusion of comedy, real life issues and RUBBEEESH!

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First Lady-7

When I tell you that the goings on in Nollywood these days just excite me, I am not joking!

Omoni Oboli came through as a one-woman powerhouse to write, produce and star in a film that deals with real life adult issues, but overlays them all beautifully with humour and comedy – all with a generous dollop of that Waffarian wit that every Nigerian loves to hear!

First Lady-7

Without giving too much away, the film is the story of a good-hearted naive village girl (Omoni Oboli aptly named Michelle as the title ‘First Lady’ demands) who is tricked into  prostitution due to poverty.

Viva Naija's Rachel with the super talented Omoni Oboli
Viva Naija’s Rachel with the super talented Omoni Oboli

Her tale of trying to escape the dire situation in which she finds herself, wrestling herself from the psychological grasp of her pimp, the larger-than-life Obama excellently, flawlessly, amazingly well played by Alexx Ekubo, and the adventures she encounters along the way.

The highlight of the film for me - Alexx Ekubo on the red carpet
The highlight of the film for me – Alexx Ekubo on the red carpet

Within the very first scene, Alexx’s Obama lands his Michelle a resounding slap when he thinks she’s hiding money from him and when he discovers she’s not, he apologises by making her have sex with him.

Some have said that this was rather jarring and perhaps unnecessary, but it is was one of my favourite parts of the film. What do you think they mean when they say “Ashewo no be work ooo!“? This is what a prostitute’s life is: being abused by the punters and the pimp alike. I knew I was in for a thrilling ride and settled myself in for a good film.

This film deals with so many issues and manages to string them together at a brisk, lively pace: greed, jealousy, family entitlement, women’s equality (should a woman be allowed to keep her last name after marriage?), prostitution, Stockholm’s Syndrome, the terrors of living on the streets, finding mercy in the most unlikely places, being careful what you wish for, and finally the triumph of true love over all.

The First Lady UK premiere audience
An audience in rapt concentration and enjoyment

What made this so amazing is that while you were left with each issue for long enough to soak up the impact, the humour was never too far away; making the film enjoyable and watchable, feeling like 90 minutes well spent, and not just a series of gaffes as we have seen in other Nollywood films.

Joseph Benjamin remains his suave, attractive self as Kelechi Ubah, the son of a powerful businessman. Chinedu  Ikedizie plays the role of a grown man trapped in a boy’s body, while Udoka Oyeka, a newbie for us at Viva Naija, plays brilliantly the role of Michael – another poor soul who had tangled with the devil to his detriment.

Joseph Benjamin thrilling the ladies on the red carpet
Joseph Benjamin thrilling the ladies on the red carpet

Anthony Monjaro is the smooth-talking Prince of the Morning; a fork-tongued devil who has people promising away their very souls before they even realise what they’ve said.

The leading men - Joseph Benjamin, Alexx Ekubo and Anthony Monjaro
The leading men – Joseph Benjamin, Alexx Ekubo and Anthony Monjaro

But ALEXX EKUBO!!! Let’s talk about Alexx for a minute, shall we?! I’ve only ever seen him all suited and booted, and I had my fears about his being cast as an erratic, violent pimp, but he is the STAR of this film!

His pidgin English is impeccable, his turns as a violent monster and a protector of his girls all in the name of the next wad of cash is completely believable, and he is a pleasure…A PLEASURE to watch on screen! He is the author of the word “Rubbeesh!” a word I sense I will be using rather a lot from now on!

I’m rambling. I know I am. But I could go on forever.

Please look out for THE FIRST LADY as it comes out on digital release and WATCH IT!!!

And hearty congratulations to Ms Oboli once again. A triumph, simply a triumph.

 

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