Well I have read the book and reviewed it, so that's done and dusted, let's move to the next point i.e. The FILM. Will this film be better than the book or will it too fail to meet the expectations of the book fan. The basic things which a book fan looks for in the film is wether the Director has been able to get visualisation of the author and more importantly readers version of author.
Yes Characterisations and the settings. Had he been able to get that period? The clothes, the fashion, the places, the streets, the people, their voices, their lives? Who did the makers choose to play the protagonists? Did they meet my vision of characters?
So here is the list -
Olanna - Thandie Newton
Odenigbo - Chiwetel Ejifor
Kainene - Anika Nani Rose
Richard - Joseph Mawle
Ugwu - John Boyega
Mama - Oneyka Onwenu
Aunty Ifeka - Gloria Young
And here are my impressions
Sisters don't look sisters at all. More like friends. Ollana looks too old and mature, whereas Kainene looks too non skinny and womanly for her role. I thought of her as a tomboy, someone skinny and boyish. The acting was also bad especially the women who played Olanna could have been much better. She looked cliched American actress. The servant was too fat, not skinny old bush boy as in the book instead he looked chubby and boyish - complete disconnect with the portrayals and casting.
The aunt of Ollana and Kainene was the most enigmatic character. The way she gives strength to the character of a woman. The aunt says - "My life will change only if I want it to change. you should never behave as if your life belongs to a man. It only belongs to you and you alone!" I like the strength of this woman.
Richard and Mr Odinigbe were casted well. They looked like they could be!! The real heroine is not Olanna but Kainene but the movie couldn't do much justice to the calmness mixed with wildness of a Kainene. The wisdom and free spirit. Free flowing but grounded, strong yet gentle, stable yet fast, that was Kainene. Like a river. Kainene didn't look wise but bitter. One who was proud but not sure why. She was prettier than Olana but didn't know that.
The movie took Liberty of cutting few scenes, probably the censors or script writer's wish - scenes of a baby's head in calabash, running dead body of Kainene's servant boy, or the black blankets of Olana. These were masterpiece acting moments missed.
But I loved the movie for one thing- the title song, a masterpiece. Such a brilliant song - naughty little flea! Perfect title song for a film based in 60s, like playing the old fun song of yesteryears. Say Ichhak Dana, Beechak Dana song for Ranbeer Kapoor's periodic film Bombay velvet or something about Bombay!!
But Kainene picks up her role by the second half, seemingly lame in beginning comes out to be the stronger by the end. She ran the world like noone's business. Her clarity and focus was magnificent. The practical woman, she mocked Obenado as a revolutionary. A woman living on her own terms in a man's world. She could carry of an international contract as smoothly as a page 3 party entertaining paparazzi for her contributions to her newly born country.
Her love for Richards was real and different. A fair English man loving a pretty Nigerian ordinary looking rich girl! Mr Churchill was brilliantly casted as a loyal lover. He loves her. He came to Africa and fell in love with it, with her. The film also shares his personal journey, his writing and aspiration for the book - though a touch and go. Modern day explorer of a dark continent, teaching, and representing a country, a continent so different than his, yet his. I am not sure why the film didn't show what Kainene does with his Book draft.
The movie is probably a 3 Star affair with doing little yet some justice to the book and its plot. It has this brilliant vintage feel to it so all the vintage lovers sit back and watch the film art.