A collective effort to pass an exam makes for effortless collaboration, and collaboration aims for a greater attempt at success — Zikka Mann. This is apt as RUE (2019), a student film by the Group 2 Batch B of Royal Arts Academy, Nigeria, more than impresses.
“As a general rule, to which there may be exceptions unknown to me, I think the tragic feeling is evoked in us when we are in the presence of a character who is ready to lay down his life, if need be, to secure one thing: his sense of personal dignity.” Arthur Miller. For Iya Tayo (Arero Theresa Ogwor), this need to secure her sense of personal dignity and save her daughter at any cost is most profound. Her daughter, the unfortunate victim she has mistakenly scarred with hot water. She, an accidental savior in need of salvation.
The film’s subtle exposé into the country’s failed system in sectors like health care (blame the system, not the professors of the profession), joined with the living condition of the below average Nigerian complicates Iya Tayo’s efforts to remedy her mistake. The society (through the sounding voice of Mama Chioma, her neighbour) tags her a witch for killing her husband and attempting to kill her daughter too. For some others not so devoid of humanity, it becomes a case of “e go better” the anthem of the below-the-belt citizen and, less crudely, the bourgeoisie too. The writer; Alvan Nelson and directors; Daniel Uzodinma and Marcia Abdul-Korah approach this narrative wisely without the unnecessary dialogue of propaganda.
Do we blame heaven for Iya Tayo’s situation or we blame her for being just a human capable of mistake? The sequential arrangement of the occurrences move the narrative justly, forcing us to ask questions, to be judges of actions and reactions. The camera moves with purpose, the editor cuts with purpose, the makeup is effective, the casting serves right, and locations tailored to suit the narrative.
Of tragedies and the common man Arthur Miller writes “…In them, and in them alone, lies the belief- optimistic, if you will, in the perfectibility of man.” Iya Tayo’s state of being “pushes” her to alcoholism and gambling, as on these mean streets, there is no sin. Prayer, gambling and alcoholism find room to work together for the betterment and victory of self and boy does victory come. Iya Tayo wins big from gambling but it might have come too late to save her daughter.
However, I choose to put Iya Tayo on a stand. Perhaps she was drunk before the incident happened? She’s gotten so drunk she’s missed a step, hot water spilling to take the beauty off her daughter? What a mother! It’s no surprise when we see her getting high on more bottles of alcohol as her daughter lies on the bed, dying. What a woman! Heaven is punishing her for her sins. Maybe her wicked neighbour Mama Chioma is right after all. A witch!
Nonetheless, her daughter Tayo lives, she’s “only” overdosed on Vitamin C. The ignorant nurse already declares her dead after trying to revive her. A laughable assumption in hindsight as the side effects of Vitamin C overdose are Diarrhea, Nausea, Vomiting, Heartburn, Abdominal cramps, Headache, Insomnia not death. It’s also possible for Tayo not to have passed out in that short period. Anyway, Iya Tayo is redeemed.