Trying to fall in love with film again.

Òlòtūré is an intense film that shows the best of what Nigerian filmmaking has to offer.

Story 

Òlòtūré tells the story of a young and naive reporter that goes undercover as a prostitute to undercover the brutal world of human trafficking in Nigeria.

The movie tackles a tense topic through the lens of a social taboo. Prostitution and sex work is something that is completely condemned with no regard to the people involved and how they get there. A lot of people forget (or conveniently ignore) that sex workers are people and this movie shows you that they are people with feelings, emotions, dreams and aspirations. It shows how a search for a better life can lead to exploitation and intimidation. It's a harrowing story that is tense and sometimes uncomfortable while also being insightful.

Acting 

In a movie like this, there needs to be a main character you can anchor onto and Òlòturé is that character. Sharoon Ooja's performance is the emotional core of the film. You follow her throughout the turmoil. Òlòturé's goes from naive and almost excited to be undercover, which then switches to jaded and then fearful. You also see her resolve and drive as well as the outright terror at the things she experiences. Sharon delivers a powerhouse performance, especially in the last 45 minutes of the film. Her pain makes everything more harrowing. 

The other performances are also worth praising because they all delivered with this movie. There are quite a few familiar faces, and this movie gave them a chance to show their range as they play characters I'm not used to seeing and do so very convincingly. 

You are meant to feel in this movie and the actors make you feel. They make you care about both the characters and their situations. This could not have been an easy movie to film given the intensity of the subject matter, and while I'm not going to say the actors made it look easy, they made an impression. 

Writing/Direction 

The writing in Òlòturé subverted my expectations and I like that it did. It made the movie more realistic in that it mirrors real life and the complications that come with it. Director Kenneth Gyang, and the writers made sure to anchor the story in real events. It's a fictional story based in fact rather than fiction. I actually found out that the movie is based on a 2014 report by Tobore Ovuorie, who much like Òlòturé went undercover to investigate a human trafficking ring in Nigeria.

Human trafficking is not a topic that dominates Nigerian new cycles or topics of conversation even though it is a billion-dollar industry with hundreds if not, thousands of victims. And this movie makes you stop and look. The horrors of human trafficking are on full display without a buffer. This is the harsh reality that some people face.

The direction rarely strays from the original story. We don't really focus on anyone else apart from the titular character and some of the people we focus on don't have much of a story apart from what we are told. Sometimes they felt more like chess pieces and plot devices. I'm not going to harp on this too much because this is a story-driven movie that follows one person after all. And there is only so much story that can be told in 1 hour, 49 minutes.

Set Design 

The visuals of the movie lean heavily into the dark nature of the story.  A lot of scenes are either shot at night or in dimly lit, claustrophobic locations. And seeing as the women in this movie work at night in some pretty shady places it makes sense and adds to the tension that is already present.

The cinematographer, Malcolm Mclean and the director crafted a world that looks and feels familiar to me (being that I am from Lagos where the movie is set and was filmed) while being foreign at the same time. The close-up shots give us a chance to feel close to the characters while the shaky-cam lends itself to the unstable nature of their lives and situations.

Score/Soundtrack

 Film score is not something I take time to write about when it comes to Nollywood movies because they always fail to make an impression. My opinion always boils down to "it was okay, and helped serve its purpose", but this is one of the times where there is an identifiable score that changes throughout the film. In fact, it popped into my head as I wrote this paragraph. 

The score changes from high-life tune to a more recognisable string-driven score and the auditory changes happen as the tone of the movie shifts. The more intense the movie gets, the more sombre the score gets. Kulanen Ikyo who did the music shows a real understanding of music in film and how it can change the tone of the scene it is paired with.

Overall Thoughts 

When I saw the trailer two weeks ago, it instantly caught my attention. I tweeted that it looked intense and nuanced and that it is. At times this was a  really hard movie to watch, especially in the third act and that was what I liked about it. You aren't meant to have it easy, and the movie is not meant to hold your hand through the intense scenes.

The movie is not without its faults, some overacting from some of the supporting characters and a few story threads that were left hanging. That being said, the bad is far out shadowed by the good, and there is a lot of good in this movie. From the story to the acting and direction, Òlòturé shows the best that Nollywood has to offer. The quality of films being produced in Nigeria is so much higher than it was 10 years ago which leads to more diverse stories like this one. You can clearly see the attention to detail and the amount of care that was put into making this movie what it is. 

Now given the conservative nature of Nigeria, this movie may not be received in the way it was intended but I'm glad it was made and hopefully, people take in the message that it is sending. 

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