Isoken: Relief From a Broken Cloud

Some Nigerians are stubbornly pressing on. They must rechristen Nollywood and everything therein. Jade Osiberu is stubborn. Her debut feature movie is persevering, with charming cast that dangerously navigate a familiar terrain.

My cinema buddy is sold to comic when the game plan is Nollywood. When she is after deeper and creative outputs, she switches off on Nolly. But Isoken changes that narrative for her. I hope this stays. There is something interestingly intriguing about Isoken, it tells a relatable story but the delivery is refreshingly novel – showing us what we know in way that makes what we know inexistent. Or can a dead person be killed again, yet the person still died the second time?

There is something more dogged in Jade’s first trip despite the questionable picture and voice quality – storying a popular theme with unpredictable scripting, transitions, blend with innocent acting that flows unforcedly. In Isoken, there is a story, there is a script, there is an act and there are real women.

A romantic drama, Isoken features the delectable Dakore Akande as Isoken, Joseph Benjamin as Osaze, Marc Rhys as Kevin, Tina Mba as Isoken’s mom (Mrs Osayande), Bolanle Olukanmi as Isoken’s younger sister, Funke Akindele as Agnes, Damilola Attoh as Joke, Lydia Forson as Kukua.

Isoken, 34, smart, successful, single woman, is led to Osaze in a matchmaking encounter by Mrs. Osayande. Osaze is a successful young man, a perfect lady’s choice for a hubby. Isoken soaks in the reality of settling with Osaze. She realizes she needs to up her game with her outlook, her gait and even the way she sits, eats, speaks in Osaze’s presense – sometimes faking what she is not. Osaze gets led on with ease. After a series of unexpected embarrassing encounter with Kevin, a British photographer, Isoken finds in Kevin, perfect friendship where she can be herself and doesn’t need to play the catch-up game, expresses her feelings anyhow she wants to, speaks the way she is comfortable with. Isoken is tucked between real happiness and uncertain happiness, with intense pressure from her mom to settle with a man in her life. Mrs. Osayande doesn’t take this pressure lightly, she takes advantage of every opportunity to throw marriage jibes at Isoken.

The trio of Kukua, Joke and Agnes strike real friendship with Isoken. The familiar topics, friendly insults, teases and individual dreams, all combine to make their friendship believable. They bicker and politely trade insults, advice and comfort each other, and expose their guarded feelings which the society won’t even let them share in public.

Isoken settles with one of her options after delivering a victory speech at her family gathering. The words of her victory speech gather from the emptiness of her presence, the words orbit around her tongue in the presence of her married younger sister. Suddenly, she is going insane with thoughts like thorns, growing gleefully from within, onto her skin. In the presence of her family, the words graduate into the creeping crawlers from the deepest pit of her internal hell. It seems her sanity is slaughtered on the slab of reality. Madness swirls inside of her, brewing the words –  swinging them at her mom like sharp knives – cutting Mrs Osayande’s defiance into pieces of empathy.

Isoken gets her relief from the broken clouds.

Self-confidence, success, choices, friendship, love, family, courage, racism are all well storied with exemplary scripting and acting. Jade Osiberu’s choice of cast, locations, plots are well thought out.

This is Dakore Akande’s finest showing of recent. She is not known for this role, especially interpreting a mid-class big sister. But then this is not enough to gauge her versatility. Joseph Benjamin veers off the curve in this one, dragging and coming across as dry. Joseph almost ruin the dialogue in the movie. The comic jives from Lydia Forson outshine Funke Akindele’s. Marc Rhys’s attempt at comedy is an epic failure, he is cut out for romance minus comic. Marc has a good showing all the same, he is a lovable oyinbo. Tina Mba steals the show. I am not sure of any better options other than Tina Mba.

The movie sets out to tell a story. Yes, the story is told but with questions around the picture and voice quality. There is something fundamentally wrong here and how Jade Osiberu allow this to slip by beats my imagination.

Jade Osiberu thread a dangerous familiar terrain, but the output is persevering. Her first outing is not bad. But why does the movie end like The Wedding Party? LOL…

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