Movie Title: Adire
Release Date: 13 January, 2023
Directors: Adeoluwa Owu
Duration: 2 hours, 3 minutes
Cast:Kehinde Bankole, Femi Branch, Kelechi Udegbe, Funlola Aofiyebi-Raimi, Ibrahim Chatta, Yemi Blaq, Yvonne Jegede, Lizzy Jay, Mike Afolarin, Tomi Ojo, Damilola Ogunsi, Onyinye Odokoro, Ifeanyi Kalu, and Layi Wasabi.
Adire attempts to distance itself from the common theme of prostitution in Nollywood films by taking a religious and moral approach, but it still feels like a repetitive story.
Many Nollywood films, including classics like Glamour Girls and Netflix hits like Oloture and Shantytown, often follow a familiar template. They start by portraying a protagonist tired of life as a sex worker who decides to escape. However, her journey to freedom is hindered by a vengeful former boss or a disgruntled client she stole money from.
Adire, while trying to break away from this trope, still falls into the same pattern. Balancing between romantic comedy and satire, the film narrates the story of a talented lingerie designer who seeks freedom from her life as a sex worker. Despite its attempt to be different, Adire ends up following a cliched storyline.
Featuring renowned talents like Kehinde Bankole, Ifeanyi Kalu, Funlola Aofiyebi-Raimi, Femi Branch, and Yemi Blaq, Adire is undoubtedly a good film. However, it underscores the tendency in Nollywood to avoid taking risks with screenplays, opting instead to replicate successful storylines in the hope of attracting a similar audience. Adire’s narrative, while with a creative spin, is ultimately cliched.
Adire, weary of her life as a prostitute, desires to break free after a troubling encounter with a client. Approaching her boss, Captain Hellbent, about leaving, she is seductively distracted by him. Determined, she occasionally steals money from him at night until she finally escapes to a small town in Oyo.
Embracing her newfound freedom, Adire passionately pursues her dream of becoming a lingerie fashion designer. During a visit to a local bar, her beauty and bold outfits attract attention, spreading news around the town and drawing frequent male visitors.
This disrupts the conservative Christian women of the town, led by Folashade, the pastor’s wife. They, with hostility, embark on a mission to make Adire’s stay unbearable in what was supposed to be her paradise.
Facing animosity from the women and a dangerous visit from her boss, Adire’s world is left hanging on the brink of destruction.
When examining Adire’s plot, it became evident that many events in the film could be predicted. Captain’s return for revenge, Adire falling in love, the deaconess realizing her mistakes, and Abeni’s death as a lesson were all foreseeable outcomes.
While predictability isn’t inherently problematic, Adire missed an opportunity to set itself apart by introducing unexpected twists. For instance, Captain could have been portrayed as the main villain, but the writer could have chosen a drug lord in the town, increasing the stakes by holding Adire’s friends hostage to make her submit.
The deaconess’s character arc was insufficiently explored. The abrupt transition from hostility to apology lacked depth, and it would have been more impactful to witness her gradual acceptance of Adire, perhaps through hesitant gestures like attending a church celebration.
The chemistry between Adire and Thomas, intended by the producers, was lacking. Despite the actors’ efforts, the scenes failed to convey the depth of being in love with two people. More vulnerability and meaningful conversations could have strengthened their connection.
The film’s dialogue was a notable issue, often feeling cringe-worthy and repetitive. An example is the scene where Shalewa breaks into Adire’s house, and the dialogue excessively repeats the intrusion.
Lastly, the film editors should reconsider inserting distracting background music in scenes, as it undermined some of Adire’s best moments.
If the intimate scenes in Adire are omitted, the film could be suitable for viewing in religious centres. Adire addresses a longstanding issue of condemnation within the church.
The character of Folashade exposes the workings of hypocrisy among certain religious individuals. Folashade, professing love for God, contributes to the ostracism of church members like Abeni, an unmarried pregnant woman, simply because she doesn’t align with Folashade’s personal “values.”
Adire reinforces the teachings of “Love your neighbour as yourself” and the commandment of “thou shall not judge.” It vividly depicts the consequences faced by the deaconess for unquestioningly establishing criteria for holiness.
Despite occasional issues with the dialogue, the acting performances are commendable. Kehinde Bankole convincingly portrays Adire, a sex worker turned designer; Funlola Aofiyebi-Raimi effectively makes us dislike her as the deaconess, showcasing a well-executed performance. Ifeanyi Kalu’s portrayal of the shy Thomas is praiseworthy.
The film excels in delivering powerful character arcs. Notably, it presents genuine development in characters, a rarity in recent Nollywood cinema. Adire transforms from a person with no prospects, isolated, to someone with a thriving career surrounded by a supportive community. The deaconess undergoes a significant evolution, transitioning from a spiteful religious leader to a more accepting figure.
I rate Adire 6 out of 10 because while it may be deemed predictable, the film shows cinematic potential and imparts a valuable moral lesson about the possibility of change in everyone.
You can watch Adire on Netflix.
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