August 2018. Nollywood Cinema continues with its hard bent determination to kill any goodwill it has left with audiences. The latest offering, Lara and the Beat; a convoluted mess that is so lengthy that one would expect it to make sense at some point. However, it eventually concludes, leaving irritation at the valuable time one has spent consuming incoherence.
There’s no doubt that Biola Alabi Media has good connections, is able to bring a team together and can carry out elaborate marketing for its products; there just needs to be a point where all the previously mentioned positives blend into a product that is something to write home about or perhaps scream from the heavens in awe of.
To be honest, after watching the film the first time, I was deeply saddened at how the product in front of me was a let-down to all the talents who came together to make it happen. It didn’t seem that all the hype that had trailed the release could have led to such a deplorable watch.
The first sign of trouble was how, 20 minutes into the film, one had little idea what was happening on screen. We had seen characters, there had been dialogue, activities had occurred, but we were left awash with confusion. It almost felt like the narration a drunk friend was struggling to provide, in a bid to prove that he wasn’t wasted and could handle his liquor. There was rambling, flashes of continuity, then absolute drivel.
The second time I saw it was a tad less frustrating. It was obvious that the filmmakers had taken the feedback from the premiere and cut a few scenes, they had also tried to enhance on continuity and the story flowed a bit better. But after the sour taste of the first watch, the second didn’t do much to ail my wounded senses.
It says a lot, when I can conclude that Banana Island Ghost (BIG) was a better film than Lara and the Beat, and we all know BIG had numerous problems on its way to being merely OK.
To be fair though, there are some elements of the film that are not utter rubbish. For one, its actors are not terrible (even Seyi Shay and Vector); there was so much else to be annoyed by that they ended up being the better part of the film, in fact, the biggest problem was that Lara Giwa had no redeeming qualities. If the director was hoping that he had unfolded the character’s insecurities and established a definite point in the story where the audience understands why she was so exasperating, then he failed woefully. Till the very end, she came across as spoilt, selfish, uncouth and opportunistic, leaving me with no lost feelings.
It also did not help that the movie used its format to perpetuate the ugly stereotype that there is no Nigerian audience for serious ‘bland’ artistic content; especially in the face of flashy ‘great’ unimaginative content. But this is really not surprising, considering the product we are consuming here lacks one of the basic qualities of a good film, a well-cooked story.
I guess the most painful part of having to write all the above, is the sheer disappointment I felt as the credits rolled. The heavy sense of waste I felt for the mix of talent and funds. The realization that filmmakers keep proving the point that Nollywood is paying attention to creating fine pictures while still failing at sound, and kicking story to the curb.
Meanwhile, for a film about music, this one no try. There’s maybe one or two memorable songs, that’s it. The only question left to consider is, ‘Did the audience really take to the film?’ Is it going to be the next film to defy critical bashing and find a place in the hearts of the people, or is it going to fall by the way side as a critical and commercial failure?
We can only wait and see.
Have you seen Lara and the Beat? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.