Viva Naija reviews FIFTY: The Movie

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Fifty - Movie Flyer

There was already a lot of hype surrounding FIFTY even before I went to view it: it is no small feat being selected by the BFI under the ‘love category’, and the trailer was certainly very polished and intriguing. This alone made me a tad nervous: I have been here before – all hyped up with satisfactory finish – so I was deliberately trying to remind myself to be cautious.

I needn’t have bothered; FIFTY is a triumph – both as a standalone piece and as a Nollywood effort.

The story takes place in uptown Lagos, detailing a week in the lives of four women approaching their 50th birthday as they deal with love, life, health, loss, and relationships.

The plot starts at a somewhat leisurely pace – giving the audience a minute to assimilate and understand the characters (or at least think they understand the characters). However in the space of 100 minutes, we find that all is not as it seems: an overly prayerful wife is in fact dealing with a possibly-fatal illness; a devil-may-care cougar is covering up pain from a previous marriage, a repeat philanderer is truly searching for love (and may well have found it), a ball-breaking boss in a male-dominated world finds herself pregnant and it might be the best thing that ever happened to her, and an obnoxious diva is covering a deep, dark family secret.

Omoni Oboli as Maria
Omoni Oboli as Maria
Nse Ikpe Etim as Kate
Nse Ikpe Etim as Kate
Dakore Egbuson-Akande as Tola
Dakore Egbuson-Akande as Tola
Ireti Doyle as Elizabeth
Ireti Doyle as Elizabeth

Is the plot completely new and unique? Possibly not. But the positives of this film far outweigh the negatives. This is a new dawn for African cinema. I’d always thought that Nigeria had a ‘colour’ – a dusty, tired colour that is present in every Nollywood film. FIFTY instead showed me a clear, vibrant and classy Lagos. Views of the Lekki Bridge juxtaposed with earthier images of the suya seller and Femi Kuti’s shrine. My Lagos was portrayed as alive and as beautiful as it truly is.

The film also showed Nigerian women occupying positions that we can recognise- media moguls and event planners – we are not all market women or fish sellers.

The relationships and family dynamics  shown are also relevant in today’s Africa. We’re not all struggling with fetching water from the well or how best to have sex with the husband in a Face-Me-I-Face-You without waking the children. Infidelity, wives earning more than their husbands, sexual abuse within the family, health issues in a country with no governmental medical aid, secrets behind marital doors, power and dissatisfaction therein are all issues that the average middle class Nigerian woman may well deal with.

The director, Biyi Bandele, the executive producer, Mo Abudu, and The Four Titans: Ireti Doyle, Omoni Oboli, Dakore Egbuson-Akande and Nse Ikpe Etim must be applauded for their valiant efforts in bringing a whole new level of cinematic excellence to Nollywood.

Ireti Doyle, Omoni Oboli, Mo Abudu, Biyi Bandele, Dakore Egbuson-Akande and Nse Ikpe Etim - the powers behind FIFTY
Ireti Doyle, Omoni Oboli, Mo Abudu, Biyi Bandele, Dakore Egbuson-Akande and Nse Ikpe Etim – the powers behind FIFTY

It may not be Titanic or Lord of the Rings, but I didn’t see a single native doctor, and nobody ran mad. The BFI chose well, and I, for one, am proud to call this Nollywood.

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