Reloaded – The Movie
Reloaded Part 1 and 2
Story – Emem Isong
Directed by – Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen and Ikechukwu Onyeka
While I was in Ghana earlier on in the month, I was really fascinated by how much the Ghanaian commercial scene is pretty saturated by so many elements of Naija. The banks are everywhere – it seemed like there was a UBA round every corner (okay that might not actually count since it is the United Bank for Africa), then there was GTBank and Zenith (as if we did not have enough of those in Nigeria already).
It was the movies that really got me going though. There are Ghanaian movies but every one in Ghana who is into these sorts of things seemed to be an ardent follower of Nigerian movies. The one currently being promoted is Reloaded. To be honest, I am more of a Yoruba movie fan in terms of Nigerian movies and I have never really developed a taste for the Nollywood English speaking movies. I have only seen a handful that were impressive, the most recent being White Waters (with Rita Dominic and Joke Silva) which was pretty good.
I picked up a copy of Reloaded in Lagos just because I had seen so many promos of it on the streets of Accra and wanted to know what the fuss was all about.
The story written by Emem Isong who also co-produces the movie is mainly centered around three couples – Omoze and Femi (newcomer and incredibly talented Nse Ikpe Etim and the dapper Ramsey Nouah), Weyinmi and Bube (the elegant Stephanie Okereke and the dashing Ghanaian actor Van Vicker) and Tayo and Osita (the vivacious Ini Edo and the estimable Desmond Elliot). There is also a side story featuring a somewhat perfect couple Chelsea and Edwin (Rita Dominic who is also the narrator of the story and Enyinna Nwigwe). Uche Jumbo and Monalisa Chinda also make appearances in this movie.
Watching the movie, I was taken aback by the sense of entitlement which these women have when it comes to their men. It makes you wonder if is still indeed the 21st century where a woman does not necessarily have to be attached to a man to validate her existence. My first impression was a cynical observation that the women in this movie are actually giving their male partners permission to treat them shabbily. But then I thought well, society and the way it is set up has allowed these women to believe that they do have to be attached to some man no matter how rotten his character may be, to be able to mean something.
Take couple #1 – Weyinmi and Bube
Weyinmi has had five abortions for Bube. They are not married after being together for seven years (do the math and you realize that it’s like she’s been getting pregnant almost every year since they’ve been together). As a woman, I cringed with a mixture of fear and shame as she exposed her vulnerability and fragility by accepting to carry out the sixth abortion for him, even though he relunctantly agrees to marry her. What makes it worse is that Bube is a jobless layabout and Weyinmi is the one with job. She is clearly a lot more empowered that she gives herself credit for. While hanging out with the boys Bube extols his ‘wife’s’ virtues telling them that she is the perfect definition of a wife and proceeds to define WIFE in the most derogatory and blatantly subservient terms possible. Leading the viewer to realize that the last thing he needs is a loving and equal partner but is more interested in someone who will attend to all his domestic needs and satisfy his sexual desires.
Then there is couple # 2 – my favorite pairing – Omoze and Femi
Omoze is clearly a no-nonsense vixen. She knows her husband can’t keep his pants zipped up and is allowing his hormones to dictate his random infidelities. Femi cheats on his wife so brazenly and is unapologetically glib about it that you actually have to admire him. In one scene, after she corners him red-handed in a somewhat compromising situation, he deflects the issue from his own waywardness and berates her for carrying on publicly in an undignified manner. He does make a point. No person – male or female – is worth losing it in public for.
Then there is couple # 3 – Tayo and Osita
Osita is a first-class jerk with all the fancy trimmings and one actually begins to feel sorry for Tayo who is unfortunately and unnecessarily vulnerable as Osita subjects her to the worst kind of treatment possible. She has to bear the full brunt of the physical and mental abuse he metes out and tramples on her self-esteem considering herself a useless excuse for a woman
Like most Nigerian films these days, Reloaded is a two-part film. Part 1 leaves us with a captivating cliffhanger -while Part 2 picks up where Part 1 left off. In Part 2, the women are fed up with losing their dignity to these men and they are taking back what belongs to them in specially orchestrated ways. There’s a twist in one of our couples’ tales which is hilarious as it is redeeming. The movie also touches on the subject of bisexuality – one of our characters actually dabbles into a same-sex relationship, an issue which is for the most part taboo in Nigeria and even in Africa as a whole. You have to watch the movie to find out which one!
That said, I will admit that the story is a tad slanted to the female point of view making women seem like the harmless victims of the wiles and fancies of their male partners although the women in the movie do admit that there is no such thing as a perfect man or a perfect woman. At the end of the movie, the women get some measure of vengeance which is bittersweet and probably catharthic at the same time.
Reloaded is a great movie to watch and it has a very infectious soundtrack (the music credit is given to Okey Benson) – you might just find the signature tune stuck in your head for hours, just like its stuck in mine now.