Òlòtūré is an EbonyLife film acquired by Netflix. The film written by Craig Freimond and Yinka Ogun premiered on October 31, 2019 in Tunisia, before screening at Carthage Film Festival. It was released on October 2, 2020, by Netflix.
This is a story of a young undercover reporter, who sets out on an investigative journalism to uncover the world of prostitution and sex trafficking in Lagos. The naïve but brave journalist soon discover what it means to be a novice in the new world she’s begun living as things speedily get out of control.
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Prostitution, Rape, Physical abuse, Sex Trafficking are the major themes in this movie and they come out particularly strong. Mo Abudu, executive producer of “Oloture,” told CNN that the crime drama was inspired by the numerous cases of trafficking around the world and in Nigeria. Irregular migration and human trafficking were aptly depicted in Oloture.
The realities of some of the women that fall victim were brought to the fore. The film exposes some of the lives Nigerian women are forced to live and what many have passed through. The society as been silent about these issues but with Oloture, the voices of the victims are amplified.
The movie also shines light to corruption and it’s rot in the Nigerian system. In one of the scenes, we see an immigration officer being bribed at the border.
Our attention is also drawn to how irresponsible some members of the armed forces can be. In a scene, a Police officer conveniently gave excuses why his men couldn’t go on a rescue mission. In another, we see soldiers refusing to grant audience to Emeka, even when he appropriately identified himself as a journalist and tried to explain how delicate the matter at hand was.
The statement “anything wey big man do person, you suppose just take am as experience” was made by one of characters, revealing the bitter truth of how ‘rich men’ and elites get away with almost every crime they commit. It shows how much their evil acts are covered up, with their victims left helpless.
The acting is almost evenly good but Omoni Oboli is, effortlessly, a stand-out. She played Alero, “the big madam” who had lived the life the girls were dying to live, and she killed it. Her years of experience in the movie industry, probably, gave her the edge as she almost single-handedly drags the movie to a level of appreciation.
Another actor at the great-to-exceptional level in the movie is Omowunmi Dada. Her supporting role easily outshone the lead. She stole the show!
Another gem was Ikechukwu, who played Chuks, ‘the wife beater” and a pimp. Adebukola Oladipupo, Kemi Lala and Wofai Fada are worthy mentions. They are at the passable-to-good level in the movie.
Undeniably, the use of colour was excellent. From the very first scene, the color set the mood and tone of the film before the actors even uttered any word.
There has been a lot of improvement in cinematography over the years in Nollywood, and Oloture held its own. The overall picture was very good. The production quality was quite impressive too.
The ‘NIGERIANESS’ of Oloture
Another beautiful thing about this movie is that it made an effort to pay homage to some parts of the Nigerian culture. The popular Jollof Rice was seen in one of the scenes. Alero was also seen in Ankara prints, half of the time. A scene also had rituals and taking of oaths.
I’d give the movie 2 stars on casting. There are roles in this movie that in my humble opinion, the director, Kenneth Gyang, should have been given to upcoming actors. Like Ayomide Tayo, once said, “casting big names in inconsequential roles does little even if they are meant to drive people to the cinemas”.
Blossom Chukwujeku, (who played Emeka), for instance, is a brilliant actor, but someone else might have played the role better. Infact, many of the male characters fell short. They almost couldn’t keep up the pace the women set. They were lagging in so many areas. While Sharon Ooja, the lead actor wasn’t so bad, she would have done better as a supporting actor. Pretty new in the industry, one will have to give her some credits for her delivery (and if I may, her infectious smile).
The plot lacked vital details. A background story hurts nobody. It would have been nice to have an idea why the journalist got that interested in covering a story on prostitution and human trafficking. The audience could connect more with Linda. We met the family she came from and could understand her struggles to create a beautiful life for her sister and mother. The character easily became a focal point of the movie. With Ehi, the journalist, there was nothing of such. Was she in a off and on relationship with her Editor, Emeka? Was she not? Who is she? So many unanswered questions and poor build up, if you ask me. The character was very undeveloped.
Aside, the climax coming in a little too late, there is almost no suspense. Moves, in more than half of the scenes, could be easily guessed.
One thing that I found weird was seeing almost every character have a cigarette in hand. It made me cringe. Alero, for instance, smoked a cigarette in every scene she appeared in! This was a little bit unrealistic.
The rape scene was a bit of a turn-off too, it was so unreal and looked more choreographed. Same goes for when Emeka punched a Politician in the toilet, and when he got Police escort for the rescue operation.
On a lighter note, Sharon Ooja might need to take lessons on how to chew gum the prostitute way. The scene she chewed one was an eyesore.
If you are yet to see Oloture and you want to know if you would have a good time sitting at a near 2-hour film. Well, the answer is yes, mostly. But know that the movie is a tragedy and it’s not for the faint-hearted. It will leave you with so many unanswered questions, and trust me, they won’t be on human trafficking. Overall, we rate it a 5/10.