After watching an absolute mess of a film the night before, my expectations about Nigerian films had perhaps been lowered so much that I was kind of astounded by this film. I think it’s safe to say that, had I seen this movie before Just Not Married, I might have liked both less.
This film tells the story of Ebola coming to Nigeria. Though it follows the exact pattern you would think a disease film might follow, it is gripping and filled with strong performances. Moreover, there was money behind this film, and so it feels of the same level of quality as an Indian studio film, or even an American or British studio film. Before I get to the nitpicky stuff, let me just say that this is a story that needed to be told and a story that should he heard. And it’s done well.
If this is a relative high-water mark in Nigerian cinema, as Cameron Bailey suggested, then it seems that Nigerian cinema, despite its long history, still has a long way to go in terms of development. I know that term is loaded, but I think it’s appropriate, as this film is what we might call morally simplistic: the disease is bad, the doctors are good, and also Nigeria is good and Liberia is bad. There’s no real room for ambiguity. (This film also indulges in a ton of hero worship, but then, if there are people who deserve hero worship in the world, it’s disease-fighting doctors.) The film also spends a lot of words telling us that a) Lagos is important (as is Nigeria) and b) Lagos has over 21 million people in it. (These things are forgivable for an emerging national cinema. I mean, how many times have you watched movies about New York and been told how important or big New York is?) The score is completely over-the-top and full of big emotion. And there are speeches that, as the girlfriend noted, feel like they belong in a disease version of Independence Day.
But these are nitpicky things. Things that I would hold against the film if it had been made in the US, in Canada, in the UK, in Europe, in Japan, or other countries with a long history of more challenging films. With my only previous experience of Nigerian cinema being the absolute mess of Just Not Married, I was well willing to forgive the moral simplicity to witness this compelling and important story.
Oh, and I should mention the important role women doctors played both in stopping Ebola in Nigeria and in making this film.