Oloture did not bother to do the cinema rounds unlike other big-budget movies, it went straight to Netflix, and this might be the reason for the low awareness that heralded its premier. Not sure what to expect, I tempered my expectations of it. After happening upon the synopsis of a review that tagged it “A Very Good Disappointment,” and one or two others that were mostly complimentary, my interest in the motion picture was sufficiently piqued to make it my first activity in the wee hours of Saturday.
A story that delves into the dark world of human and sex trafficking employing the generous use of Pidgin English and Idoma language, Oloture was directed by Kenneth Gyang and produced by EbonyLife Films.
The Mo Abudu and Heidi Uys inspired story stars Sharon Ooja, Omowunmi Dada, Omoni Oboli, Blossom Chukwujekwu, Patrick Doyle, Omawunmi, Ikechukwu. Beyond its socially-conscious theme, its eclectic cast of seasoned and up and coming acts is one of the features that draws curiosity to the movie.
Set in Lagos, Nigeria, the movie opens with commercial sex workers milling around what could pass for a cross between a nightclub and a brothel on a buzzing Lagos night, and this is where Oloture scores its first point. The attention to detail in depicting the mannerisms, appearance, and verbal expressions of sex peddlers was unmistakable.
In particular, Vanessa, played by Wofai Fada made a mark as a character to watch regardless of her near waka pass role.
It is not long before we realise the central character, Ehi, played by Sharon Ooja is an undercover journalist on a mission to expose the happenings in the illicit sex trade world. But Ehi is young and naive, and soon enough, she is overwhelmed by the enormity of the task and imminent danger she unknowingly signed up for.
Her close shave with a randy customer would set the tone for what would turn out to be a rollercoaster of revelations and a life on the edge.
Oloture flirts with the present and the future.
The cinematography and sound are topnotch, but It was confusing for me to place the epoch of the film. The highlife music that dominated its soundtrack suggested an 80s setting, while other elements such as mobile phones and the wardrobe of the cast point to a modern-day production.
When actors work hard at their craft, it is not difficult to observe, and it is on this score that Oloture bags its biggest point. Every single actor featured in the film gave the viewer something to look forward to. There was no bleh character that should have been yanked off.
It was refreshing to see Sharon Ooja give expression to a role that isn’t the lover girl as we have grown accustomed to seeing her play.
Oloture marks Ooja’s breakout movie…and I know she is not exactly a newbie in Nollywood, but it is the work she’ll point to many years down the line as her statement piece of art, and one that will continue to earn her a second consideration if she ever posts a below-par performance.
Omawunmi as Sandra the whore house owner caught the picture of a retired runs girl who’s all about getting returns on her “investment”. Ikechukwu as Chuks the pimp, Omowunmi Dada as Linda, the prostitute, and Omoni Oboli as Alero all brought their A-game to bear on set.
But that’s not all that makes Oloture special.
Oloture is arguably the most poignant exposé on human trafficking Nollywood has made in the last decade or more. The interpretations are vivid in describing what young girls go through in their quest to quit a life of penury.
It dives deep into the subject matter—Oloture covers most bases—in chronicling the events that culminate in the exportation of sex slaves from Nigeria.
Of particular note is the nude scene where the girls were made to swear to an oath to keep the activities and identities of their traffickers secret. If a body double was employed in place of Ehi, one couldn’t tell.
An interesting dynamic was the relationship between Ehi and Emeka, her editor. At first, it wasn’t apparent to me that his concern for her went beyond the boundaries of a boss/subordinate relationship. I wish the producers resisted the urge to plant a romantic interest in there. I wish his visceral anger towards Sir Phillip and his ilk was on account of a boss who genuinely cared about his subordinate, and not borne out of his feelings for her.
Oloture leaves one yearning for more when it ends. Hence, the calls for the second part in some quarters. But I have a different take: Not all stories have to come to a logical conclusion.
The idea that a story must have a happy ending or end in some kind of resolution is a product of years of digesting tons of unrealistic and contrived happily ever after narratives.
Real-life seldom works that way, and I am not keen on seeing the second instalment of Oloture. Except, of course, the producers can outdo themselves—a rarity in Nollywood.
Do I think Oloture is worth your time? It’s an unequivocal yes.
In fact, I tip Oloture to cart a few awards at the next AMVCA.