Oloture is the story of a young female journalist (Sharon Ooja) who goes undercover in a world very different from hers. A world of pimps, prostitutes and human traffickers. What starts off as a ploy for a story eventually becomes a personal agenda for her.
The film is produced by EbonyLife films and directed by Kenneth Gyang. It’s easiest to start off with the good bits of this film. The makers of Oloture stretch themselves more than the average filmmakers in their attempt to depict this underground world of prostitution. The stretch isn’t the most thorough because the world could have been more richly built, however, the extent to which it is built (based on nollywood standards) is worth commending. The production quality and the cinematography are also quite decent.
Then there were our performers. Omowunmi Dada as “Linda” steals the show in every scene she’s in. It’s honestly her story that Oloture just happens to be featured in. Ikechukwu is impressive as the pimp, I definitely wouldn’t have guessed that he had that in him. Bukola Oladipupo (you might know her as “Tiara” from “The Men’s Club”) performed quite the transformation on all of us – and oh how convincing she was. Wofai Fada, Sambasa Nzeribe and Daniel Etim Effiong also shined in the few scenes they had.
Now on to other things.
The film Oloture was initially screened in 2019. In 2018, however, an Austrian film called “Joy” was released on Netflix. It’s also a film about how a young Nigerian woman finds herself caught up in the world of trafficking abroad. Seeing both movies in relative close proximity makes it impossible not to compare, either consciously or subconsciously. But I beg you to resist the urge, because the final nail to the coffin of this theme-centric movie would be a comparison with a content-centric story like Joy.
Why do I refer to it as a theme-centric story? Because it seems as though the initial goal of the filmmakers was to tell a relatively “deep” story about a darker subject matter, and then the human trafficking agenda was selected, after which the whole journalist angle was simply appended. While the synopsis states that it’s the story of the journalist, Oloture, it feels less so and more of an expose on all the bad bits and pieces in the underground world that equates to a thriving atmosphere for human traffickers in Nigeria.
If it truly was a story about Oloture then there would be more of a human angle. It’s not that the structure of the story would have changed that much, but watching the movie – while quite sad an experience – just doesn’t seem to make sense. The entire time you are watching Oloture go through all the things she experiences, no one ever bothers to explain to the audience why she is even doing this? Why is she so invested? Why is she risking her life so intensely? There is no connection created.
The character is grossly underdeveloped. Someone in the writers room might attempt to explain her motivations with those flimsy couple of scenes after her encounter with Sir Phillip. But in all honesty, we saw that in the trailer already. Even after the movie ends, the question still remains – “who was Oloture?” We see a scene early in the movie where she’s bubbly with her coworker/lover (Blossom Chukwujekwu), and then after the incident she suddenly turns somber. Sorry writers, but that’s not enough characterization.
The poor connection between our protagonist and the audience was further intensified by the choice of our female lead. You might have seen Sharon Ooja before in the webseries, “Skinny Girl In Transit“. Oloture is possibly her first lead role (correct me if I am wrong) and unfortunately she doesn’t carry it well. She does well enough that if she was a supporting character, her lack of range could possibly be missed. But as the lead actress, Ooja adds nothing to an already struggling character.
After watching Oloture, you will leave with a few concerns and questions and they won’t just be regarding the world of human trafficking.