Unlike many big-budget Nollywood movies, ‘Stranger’ has proven that you don’t need a star-studded cast or, better still, a luxury setting or a twisted plot to make a great movie.
Movie title: Strangers
Date released: April 29, 2022
Running time: 1 hour 58 minutes.
Producer: Banji Adesanmi
Director: Biodun Stephen
Cast: Lateef Adedimeji, Bimbo Oshin, Bolaji Ogunmola, Debbie Felix, Femi Adebayo, Ndamo Damaris, Chris Iheuwa, Jide Kosoko, Bimbo Akintola, Mide Glover Nonso Odogwu, Waliu Fabemi, and Taiwo Ibikunle
‘Strangers’, in no strange way, is a roller coaster ride of emotions, with a straightforward narrative and apt delivery in both the acting and cinematography.
Unlike many big-budget Nollywood movies, ‘Strangers ’ has proven that you do not need a star-studded cast or, better still, a luxury setting or a twisted plot to make a great movie.
When ‘Strangers’ was yet to be released, the movie had already won the Gold award for Directing at the International Independent Film Awards held in Los Angeles.
A true-life event inspires the faith-based film. The movie follows the life of a remote village boy, untamed by civilization but hit by catastrophic events that change the course of his existence.
The movie opens with the narrator’s voice-over, a letter on his journey through life.
The story is about Adetola, fondly called Ade, who lives in the beautiful remote village of Ireti, a hamlet somewhere in the heart of the Southwestern part of Nigeria, surrounded by a river that knits the entire town together in its naturally aesthetic landscape.
Adetola, fondly called Ade, lives with his pregnant mother, his elder sister and his grandfather, who is a witch doctor.
His journey through life all started with a dream. Ade dreamt that he was in turbulent water, a flood, and as he drowned, losing hope in life, he was rescued by a stranger. He shared his dream with his elder sister, who laughed at his goal hysterically, as she claimed that the dream was a result of hunger or malaria.
Days became weeks, and weeks ran into months. Ade had already forgotten the dream.
As usual, he went swimming with his friends, but he came home with a strange hitching on his leg this time. The hitching metamorphosed into a peculiar injury that defiled all herbal treatments his grandfather could administer.
While Ade is left in agony as his wound has grown to be complicated and a foul odour emanates from the injury, no one dares to come close to him, except for his struggling mother, who was in arduous distress and worse pain, as she helplessly watched her son slowing dying in her arms, what could be worst for a poor widow?
When they lost all hope and the family was prepared for the worst, a set of evangelists came visiting. Luckily for Ade, there was a medical outreach with foreign medical experts visiting the village.
They came to his age, but there was little or nothing they could do. Ade needed to be transferred from the village to the hospital in Lagos.
Thankfully for Ade, after the evangelists put up his story, a strange woman outside the country decided to help him through his surgery and get back on his feet, a feat that led his mother to Christ.
Years later, Ade’s story captivated the heart of his benefactor, who sponsored his primary education.
Ade started schooling at the age of 13, but he decided he would finish school and become a medical doctor despite the frustration. Unfortunately for Ade, his dream was cut short when his benefactor died, and the money she left could only take him through secondary school.
He graduated as the best student of his set and was set for the higher institution, but with what fund? Would this village boy reach for his dreams? What does life have in stock for him?
‘Strangers’ is a movie that takes the viewers on a journey of emotions and deep thoughts.
The director’s choice of actor brings every character to life in a very demonstrative manner, and you can feel the passion, the agony, the stress, the pain and the joy in both verbal and non-verbal cues. You could even feel goosebumps.
Watching the movie, the viewers see a comic synergy between the characters, which will provoke intermittent laughter.
Strangers is another typical example of telling a story in its raw form, as evident in several Nollywood films of recent. From a rich blend of indigenous culture, a colourful transition from one decade to another, and character morphology, the director was spot on when he decided to create a narrative that evokes nostalgia.
The transition of the character “Adetola”, which starts with Lateef Adedimeji as the narrator, down to the younger versions portrayed by Daniel Bogunmbe and Mide Glover, was brilliant.
The transition took the audience through the life of Ade as a young boy up to his times and trials as a grown man, he was no stranger to pain, and the actors hardly took a foot wrong.
These three casts had in common that they walked in the same pattern and sounded much alike. After the younger Ade, played by Daniel Bogunmbe, had surgery on his leg, it affected how he walked.
Away from the acting, the different locations on their own were an integral part of the story, from the interior village to the hospital, the CGS school, to the University of Ibadan. There was little improvisation with the location, making the narrative very relatable.
The movie is educative, demonstrative and didactic. It takes the viewers from one leap of emotion to another, from jumpy histrionics to depressed defeatism.
The movie highlights strong themes like love, humanity, the power of coincidence, sheer goodwill, life’s journey, and fate.
As observed lately, there is a deliberate infusion of various Nigerian indigenous languages into Nollywood’s recent works. It goes to show the background of the story and the characters.
However, while maintaining the new trend of indigenous language infusion, the movie employed the Yoruba language and creole.
Creole, a derivative of pidgin, is spoken by some people in Jamaica, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, and parts of Georgia and South Carolina.
The way Ade’s mother called Pastor ‘Paitor’ and Ade pronounced some words, which shows their educational background, were instances where they spoke Creole in the film.
Also, the movie featured a Cameroonian actress Damarise Ndamo, who played the role of Mrs Macauley, the wife of Mr Macaulay ( Chris Iheuwa), Ade’s foster mother.
After her triumphant performance in Kang Quintus’ Fisherman Diary, Damarise aims high as she makes her top debut appearance in a Nollywood movie. Damarise and Iheuwa, who played the role of a couple, were fond of using the french language to communicate. The use of french also brought an understanding of Mrs Macaulay’s character, and she runs an international NGO.
Narrating a story based on a true-life event cuts across diverse people and places. Even if the focus is on a particular person, a glimpse into the life of others around the story gives the narrative a more concrete and enjoyable substory, and this is where Strangers falls short.
The movie brought to our notice that Ade’s mother had a son, but in the narration, we only knew that he was sent to the city to become a mechanic. The mother did not tell us about Ade’s relationship with his only brother.
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What becomes of Ade’s sister? How about the pastor who brought Ade to the hospital? Two or three scenes about these sub-stories could have sufficed.
However, it is pretty understandable that the scriptwriters intentionally avoided these sub-stories to focus on Ade’s central character so as not to thwart the storyline.
In all, Strangers is an imperfect yet emotional grass-to-grace story.