“In Ibadan” is a director’s film, meaning it tells you more about the director than anything else. The director has fumbled through a couple of shorts- some of which I’ve seen- finding his voice on the way, but on this particular project, he doesn’t exhibit growth as much as he does confidence. Taiwo Egunjobi is an old soul. This film, like most of his other experiments, have a clean yet dusty feel to them. In Ibadan oozes an earthy, calm yet highbrowed feel of middle class Ibadan. If you’ve ever visited Ibadan, you would find the latter very relatable.
The film is really about the director’s love affair with the city (he was raised there) but he hides his true feelings behind a love story that is supposed to be the film’s major plot but ends up being its weakest, not because of what it is but what it could have been. The admittedly unsentimental director messes up what could have been a moving story by distancing himself from the film’s acting performances and focusing on the technical bits. Glitchy dialogue aside, his lead characters are uninteresting, unmotivated & easily overshadowed by the beauty of Ibadan. Even in scenes when they bare their souls, Egunjobi shoots them from a distance, effectively undermining their performances. The closest he comes to being exciting are the touches of red & petulant demeanour of the film’s minor characters. These problems are not helped by its “festival type” pacing which never really picks up.
Industry veteran Sola Fosudo delivers a comical character that talks more than he thinks. While there are people like that in real life, I am tempted to demand an acting masterclass from every scene involving the actor with more years of acting experience than I have lived on earth. Temi Fosudo delivers an awkwardly beautiful performance that is muted yet unwavering even in scenes with boisterous & overzealous actors. Yoruba tastes good in Goodness Emmanuel’s mouth but her performance as Ewa is severely enervated by a lack of introspective shots
I came away from the movie struggling to have an opinion on the screenplay. While I loved the evil friend subplot, I couldn’t forgive the scene where the pregnant girl confesses to the police. The police chief literally gave a recap of the film – and I was like, “we know this, we’ve been watching!” Or Ewa’s (Goodness Emmanuel) first scene with her father which really should have been a phone conversation. Greenhorn writing mistakes clearly. This is not a bad debut feature length, although knowing the intelligence of Director Ejunjobi, I expected more.