Another day another insipid Nollywood comedy. And how we’ve come to dread them.
This time around Darasen Richards directs Rita Dominic and Blossom Chukwujekwu in a rather mirthless comedy of errors involving a hotel porter who gets himself tangled in a white lie only to find that to sustain the impression created, he has to commit to several other lies in quick succession. After a while, he bites off more than he can chew and finds himself at the mercy of law enforcement agents.
This description seems uncluttered enough. Richards’ film is anything but, peppered as it is with fart jokes and zero thrill factor. Running with a setup that must have read like an interesting enough idea on paper, Richards only manages to prove that he has little or no business making films, especially if everyone is going to agree that filmmaking goes beyond lining up a succession of moving images.
Richards has to his credit, a 2014 film titled The Antique and on The Big Fat Lie, perhaps due to budgetary constraints, he takes on multiple roles including editing and cinematography in addition to helming duties. Applying the term ‘Jack of all trades’ to describe his work on The Big Fat Lie would be committing an undeserving act of generosity. The film is so rudderless, even basic storytelling mainstays like the inciting incident, rising action, climax, etc are abandoned.
James (Blossom Chukwujekwu slumming it, alongside just about everyone else involved in this misadventure) is on duty in a fancy Lagos hotel when he comes across his celebrity crush, influencer/model Eniola Williams (Tana Adelana). The context in which they meet, a moment of mistaken identity is set up awkwardly and Chukwujekwu and Adelana do not quite share the chemistry that is necessary to sell this kind of set up. More heated glances are to be found between Chukwujekwu and Dominic (who plays Vera, his sidekick and tormentor in chief.)
The actors are perhaps the only ones who refuse to see that the romance between James and Eniola cannot get off the ground and so they try, as James digs himself deeper into a ditch, making frantic attempts to sustain the affections of Eniola. One of these harebrained schemes involves perhaps The Big Fat Lie’s only joyful scene, involving Dominic’s Vera in full diva mode, Chukwujekwu’s James/Erik and Adelana. For a hot moment, the film comes to life briefly and even the drab production design- so bad the hotel looks far from luxurious- the thinly drawn characters, the weird treatment of women and dull picture all fade into inconsequence.
Honesty is the best policy- in love and in life- appears to be the underlying theme that The Big Fat Lie builds its entire structure on but the utter cluelessness that is on display by the production team makes gleaning anything worthwhile from the experience almost impossible. For proof of this, look no further than the sound department who thought it a bright idea to score the film with a James Bond theme rip off. Someone in Hollywood better be getting their cheque.
There are many ways- buried somewhere in between the story and the talented cast gathered- that a more capable hand with the idea that The Big Fat Lie toys with could have done the minimum and made a tidy, coherent film. None of them is approached here. Instead what makes it to the final cut is a back story that sort of explains the protagonist’s present state of mind as prologue, tacked on to a jerking, sputtering vehicle that wobbles loudly for a bit, before coming to a halt somewhere around the midway line. Board at your own risk.
Wilfred Okiche is a medic, reader, writer, journalist, culture critic, and occasional ruffler of feathers. One of the most influential critics working in the Nigerian culture space, his writing has appeared extensively in platforms like YNaija.com and 360nobs.com. Okiche has provided editorial assistance to the UK Guardian and has had his work published in African Arguments, Africa is a Country and South Africa’s City Press. He has received trainings and acquired experience in multimedia and online journalism. He also appears on the culture television show, Africana Literati. He has participated at critic programs in Lagos, Durban and Rotterdam.