THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Lara & The Beat is the coming of age story of the young and tactless heiress, Lara Giwa (Seyi Shay) after she and her sister, Dara Giwa (Somkele Iyamah-Idhalama), find themselves in poverty after their trusted Uncle Tunde (Wale Ojo) defrauds their late father’s company and leaves them out to dry. Except the film is about a lot more than that.
It’s not just the story of Lara and her beat, as the title will lead you to think. It’s also the story of Dara and her filmmaking. It’s the story of Lara “arguably” learning respect. It’s the story of Sal (Vector) also finding his beat. It’s a love story and many other things in equal parts. In many situations, most of these stories would get lost somewhere in the 140 minute runtime but not so much here. Linearly, the story line is easy to follow which is worth commending, however, the story never reaches its full capacity. And the writing is to blame for that.
For a coming of age film, the writer fails to maximize the audience’s investment in the character’s journey. In a film like this, it is expected that our titular character will evolve as time goes by from a person the audience barely likes into someone lovable. Granted, by the end, Lara is a better human being. However, the development is sketchy as we simply go from one scene with her running her mouth in entitlement to a scene at night in a room without air-conditioning and then a morning where she’s suddenly seen hand washing clothes.
It’s understandable that things needed to be rushed a bit here. After all, between Lara, Dara, Sal, the Giwa Empire, the conspiracy, their art, their new home etc., there’s a lot of stories to be pursued. The problem is that asides from linearly being coherent, the writers stretch themselves too thin because by the end of the film many of our characters (including major characters) still feel hollow and none of those story arches gets a satisfactory conclusion. The closest we get to a satisfactory conclusion is the Lara & Sal arch but even that still feels a bit rushed.
By the end of the film, everybody is happy and gathered at a vibrant lounge in the evening. Lara has now learned to make good music (how? the audience doesn’t know), a popular musician is present, Lara is hugging her friends intensely (the same ones that had kicked her out a few scenes ago), even the sworn enemy (FadeKemi) is present and dancing. Yet, much like the fate of the sisters’ bank accounts, the fate of the Giwa empire is still unknown, the conspiracy between Uncle Tunde and Fadekemi (Uche Jombo) is unresolved, and the question of where the sisters will sleep tonight is also still up in the air…. but sure, let’s celebrate!
The Bling Lagosians“ couldn’t quite grasp. In this film, our characters are rich but the camera doesn’t go around taking excursions around their wealth to prove it. It’s just tied in to the scenes as the story moves along. And then there was the camera movement in that club scene that will possibly take your breathe away.Despite the shortcomings of the writing, there are many aspects of the film that keep you engaged. One can argue that there are two stars in this film. The first and most prominent being the cinematography and the second being Seyi Shay. The film starts off with such crisp and delicious shots and manages to display the grandeur and flamboyancy of the Giwas in a way that films like “
Lara & the Beat was piped as the acting debut of the Nigerian music artist, Seyi Shay (Lara Giwa). Watching the ease with which Seyi embodies Lara, it’s hard to believe that she has not been doing this for a while. She is effortless in every scene and every type of scene, unlike her co-star, Vector. Whether she is being entitled or she is feeling repentant, whether she’s heartbroken or falling in love, she owns each scene. She also has such an intense love affair with the camera because whenever she shows up one cannot help but watch her.
If one was to consider the nollywood obsession with the uber wealthy in society as a genre of its own, in this genre Lara & the Beat would be high in the rankings. At least it has a direction and a framework but the writing doesn’t allow it to scale the fence over to greatness.