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Film Review: Soole

The cliche comedy-drama is fairly humorous but ridden with plot holes and subpar acting.

Released in cinemas across Nigeria on the 26th of November, "Soole", a comedy-drama produced by Nollywood actor Adunni Ade tells the stories of a group of people from different walks of life heading to Enugu for the Christmas holiday in one of the famous Lagos soole buses. These famous buses have a place in the history of commuting in Lagos, and it is wholly indigenous. In the good old days, ‘Soole’, which translates to drop him/her, was a fast and cheap way to travel and it is preferred by commuters who cannot stand the stress of using the costlier traditional motor parks.

Directed by Kayode Kasum, the film opens with the lead actor Sister Veronica (Adunni Ade), heading to the car park to board a soole heading to Enugu after her plans to source funds in Lagos to provide for the orphanage she works for was met with ill-luck. While on the bus, Veronica meets up with Justina (Meg Otanwa), an outspoken lady who sells lingerie and comes to Lagos to buy goods for resale in Enugu. As they journey, they find themselves entangled in a cat-and-mouse game with criminals.

"Soole'' is your typical Nollywood Comedy-drama, and it doesn't get any more cliche than this. After watching the preview for the project online, I was a little intrigued seeing Adunni Ade take on the role of a nun and Femi Jacobs playing the role of an elderly man in the film. I anticipated seeing how all the main characters were going to pull off their roles, telling popular tales about the activities that go on in a one-chance bus in Nigeria but sadly, it fell short in more ways than one.

The major concern with the film is the lack of a proper story arc to effectively tell the narrative. The plot is simply subpar and most people might find it difficult to understand the message the creators of this film intend to communicate to the audience. For the longest time, the characters kept going round in circles without a proper background story connecting them to the bus. The dialogue was mostly filled with needless and aimless insults that struggled to stick or add to the overall quality of the movie.

Also, a lot of the actors featured in Soole have been generally typecast with less serious roles which makes it even more difficult to connect with the characters as the storyline progresses. With a running time of over ninety minutes, there is nothing truly worth remembering about this storyline, and the poor acting did nothing to elevate it.

As the film advances, we are introduced to a pastor and a herb seller who depict the usual activities that occur in public transportation in Nigeria. Their characterization however is a bit over flawed as their interpretation of the character seems too unrealistic. In the same vein, Sola Sobowale's character was introduced with a lot of twists and turns aimed at creating the perfect anti-climax which the director must have intended to communicate with the story, her actions were however a bit over the top and in scenes where she was having her dialogue with Kelechi Udegbe her second in command, their acting is simply below par and there is a lack of power and authority.

Another major flaw of Soole is it takes too long to unveil its villains and the story around “the bag” seems slightly silly and improbable. The link between the villains, their business, and the bag is also frustratingly hazy. There are several questions left unanswered and a good number of unrealistic scenes that make you roll your eyes throughout the first fifty minutes or so of the movie.

The silver lining in the movie would have to be the humour, which for the most part is pretty decent. Even more, you might connect with one or two of the characters like Shawn Faqua, Adedimeji Lateef and Meg Otanwa as their characters are relatable to the everyday people.

Another is the cinematography and production design which is done pretty neatly. Shot mainly in a bus the camera movements do well to convey messages that were lost in action giving you a picturesque viewing. The baby factory also adequately portrays the horror that young girls go through in the hands of kidnappers who use them as a business venture.

Regardless of the plot holes in the character arc and story structure, Soole portrays a typical Nigerian society and the horror that exist in it. It keeps the viewers on the edge as it showcases how unsafe road travel can be in the country and the different kinds of “hustle” people get involved in to get by. It exposes evils that go on and does not fail to emphasize the cliché, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”.

The film had the potential to be great if attention to telling an actual story was put in place. The technicalities and visual expression did manage to convey a message but the camera angles, costume designing and art designing cannot do much if the story plot is weak. Nollywood screenwriters and directors can be more ambitious with creating an actual cause and effect in their story to connect with the audience.

All in all, "Soole" wasn't a great watch. However, if you are looking to catch up on some comedy that doesn't entirely tell a story but sure provides a good laugh, then you should watch it.

Currently showing in cinemas across the country.

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