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Review: Isoken is the Most Accurate Movie About Chimamanda yet

By Alexander O. Onukwue

Even while the final credits scrolled up, you lingered by the steps to know if there would be some additional enthralling piece of drama in this movie. Yes, Isoken is that enjoyable.

For the level of resources available to and outputs from Nollywood at the moment, it is almost the perfect movie. But who needs one when a perfect guy like Osaze (Joseph Benjamin) would still be waiting for an answer from a 35-year old ‘abnormal lady’, a week before what should have been a glamorous wedding?

I would stick my neck out and say the Isoken trailer has been the only one over the past 24 months which was well beaten by the movie – and that trailer was brilliant. For instance, the trailer did not tell you that Funke Akindele, though a household name in comic relief, would have to struggle with Lydia Forson in owning every scene that involved Isoken and the girls.

Or how not-so-skinny girls in transit should not judge a guy’s worth solely by his ringtone.

Guys who think typically in terms of setting up a booming business and settling down can be boring to creative ladies; we did not need Isoken to teach us that. But for once, we have got a white-skinned guy in a Nollywood movie who actually knew what he was doing; besides Iye Isoken (Tina Mba, as Isoken’s mother) and the prayer warrior who anointed everything, from leg sprains to private parts, Kevin, played by Marc Ryhs, would definitely be one other reason why you would want to watch this movie more than once.

As for Isoken – the lead character – she was a thespian anthology of the theories and characters of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Dakore Egbuson Akande is probably the closest look-alike to the critically acclaimed Best Selling author. With every passing scene, it appears more than mere coincidence that she was picked to play the role of this waning but ambitious young woman who still put work over available love at 35. The Half of a Yellow Sun movie was about glorifying Chimamanda’s magnum opus; Isoken glorified Chimamanda, the idea.

FIrst, her defense of her hair before her first date in 6 years was a Chimamanda scene transformed from text to full colour. Then, there was the jab about why it had to be the ladies’ duty to pick Asoebi for weddings; the f-worded reply from one of Osaze’s friends said it all. Add to these the fact that Isoken could not cook; to be sure, read what Ms Adichie thinks about girls being born with the cooking gene.

And as if to expand more on the influence of Adichie’s works in this movie, you only have to take note of the ubiquitous presence of long stacks of books, both in Isoken’s apartment and in her Father’s house. She was not an academic, neither were we told her Father was; from what you see, her mum was basically a Benin woman whose sole life purpose was in planning her daughters’ weddings, caring not much for what degrees they got.

But I assume, with the colourful portrayal of books, Jade Osiberu, who handled this impressive production and costume, wanted to pass the message of enlightenment (intellectual or otherwise) as the reasons for Isoken’s long-awaited walk down the aisle, and of her Fathers’ support of this protracted delay.

And finally…

Did Isoken throw away a life with a well stationed Osaze for some photojournalist freelancer just because he was Oyinbo? Well, Ivara Esege is not Oyinbo, but he is also light-skinned. He is a medical doctor, but also a pretty good photographer too (refer to the photo on the inside back of ‘We Should All be Feminists’ booklet by Anchor Books).

And he is Chimamanda’s husband.

This appears to be seeing things when nothing is there, but it is either this was an intentional way of elaborating on the striking physical resemblance between Dakore and Chimamanda, or we finally have a first cinematic proof that Nigerian literature has subconsciously began to assimilate into society.

But Kevin did not quite say Yes to Isoken; so there will be a sequel?

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