If you are a fan of movies in Nigeria and do not know Jadesola Osiberu, you should. She’s the founder of Tribe85 Productions and one of the brains behind some of NdaniTV’s greatest offerings. What I’m trying to say is, she’s a bad-ass Nigerian filmmaker who has finally blessed the world with a feature film. Now that she has done her part, the next filmmaker on my wish list due for a feature film is Tolu Ajayi – there is a God in heaven so this will happen soon – No pressure Tolu.
For her first feature, Jade serves us Isoken, the story of a successful unmarried 34-year-old woman, dealing with the societal pressures that come with being single at a certain age. Sounds familiar right?
Before I get into reviewing Isoken, let me tell you a short story… I turned 29 less than a week ago, and as you know, with birthdays come greetings. In the middle of a very busy work day, I got a call from one of my mum’s closest friends. You see, ever since my mum passed, she’s made it a duty to keep in touch, a call on my birthday, another on my mum’s birthday, one on the anniversary of her death, etc. While this is so thoughtful and very much appreciated, the conversation soon tilted towards, ‘how’s your girlfriend, are you guys close to picking a date?’
I didn’t know how to start explaining to her that I was currently single or that there wasn’t any known date in the near future. So I just said, fine ma. She’s OK. Not yet ma. OK, thank you ma, thanks for calling ma. Bye ma. You see pressure?
It wasn’t long after, that I got a message from my mum’s younger sister. It obviously started with birthday wishes and prayers but ended with, ‘How’s your sweetheart…. We must hear wedding bells soon ooo……’ Kai! This is just a little bit of the marriage pressure I have faced as a 29 year old guy! I can therefore imagine what it is like for a 34 year old lady!!!
Laced with shady, intelligent and relatable dialogue, Isoken is a film with acting performances that range from bearable to really really good. It also has well timed comedy, transitioning so well from laugh-out-loud comedy, to sombre drama and back again; thus giving the romantic comedy genre a good name in Nigeria.
It’s quite impressive to see how the ‘struggle’ of the present day unmarried 30 something year old Nigerian lady, is portrayed on the big screen by Jade. She leave no stones unturned, successfully tackling a touchy subject with finesse. We may not admit it but Marriage/Weddings/Coupling is such a ‘HUGE’ part of Nigerian culture and has given rise to many absurd practices by literate and knowledgeable Nigerians. If you are not married at a certain age, you are considered unserious, unaccomplished, or …..incomplete.
Knowing who we are as a nation though, Isoken will probably not put much of a dent in our nature. What it may achieve, is conversation in certain circles that makes a difference for one or two or even ten people.
What I particularly enjoyed the most was the eclectic and strong supporting characters to the lead Isoken – played by Dakore Akande. It’s not going to be hard for the audience to identify close friends or family members in them. From the friend with the unfiltered mouth to the prayer warrior aunty; these characters are special ingredients that make the ‘Isoken broth’ one of the tastiest I’ve consumed in a little bit. And unlike more of the poorly executed Comedies in Nigeria, Isoken makes it a point to be somewhat excellent. Barring some ADR glitches, a few bad scenes and some out of shot scenes, Jade and her team deliver on the cinematography, set design, costume design and editing. In fact, the execution of the comedy is so beautiful and subtle that I may actually start to enjoy the genre.
Finally, let’s talk about the music!!!!! Jadesola Osiberu, you have done well. See ehn, we have great music in Nigeria and Isoken utilizes these tracks like an expert conductor, making me fall in love with the tracks used all over again. From hits like Chemistry – Falz & Simi, OminiKnowest – Waje, Mama – Kiss Daniel and Iskaba – Wande Coal to less well known gems like Drift Away and Libra Man – Lindsey Abudei, Renegade Soldier – Bemyoda, Start Again – Falana, Ndiredi – Simphiwe Dana, Cleo – Tay Iwar, Desire – Odunsi, and School your face – Temi Dollface; the music supervisor needs to be given a round of applause (and maybe a raise?).
Isoken is truly a relevant Nigerian story, one that I recommend highly and I believe many young Nigerians will connect with on some level. It is a film that combines intelligent film making with good comedy, and does not take the safe route just because comedies can easily make money in Nigeria. It is a movie that displays just how valuable experience is as a tool in film making; also showing that collaboration is truly powerful.
I loved Gidi Up and was expecting something good from Jade but Isoken exceeded my expectations. Go and watch by yourself and if you have, let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.