Ruth Kadiri's 'Better Half: A step forward or another page from the recycled Nollywood playbook?
Nigeria's vibrant film industry, Nollywood, has seen its fair share of creative highs and predictable lows.
Actress and producer Ruth Kadiri's recent offering, ‘Better Half’, attempts to navigate this tricky terrain by offering a blend of relatable storytelling and innovative filmmaking in the Nigerian movie industry.
Nollywood has occasionally fallen into the trap of recycling storylines that revolve around familiar tropes.
From the predictable love triangles to the constant focus on wealth and social status, certain themes seem to resurface in many films, and 'Better Half' inadvertently succumbs to these patterns, hindering its ability to truly stand out and redefine Nollywood narratives.
The movie narrates the enchanting tale of Kanye, a college student portrayed by industry newbie Chidi Dike, and his professor, Sia, played by sensational actress Uche Montana.
Infatuated with Sia, Kanye crafts an online identity as Kennedy to forge a connection, drastically changing their fates. Amidst their flourishing bond, Kanye proposes, culminating in a traditional wedding. Yet, an unforeseen revelation about Kanye leaves Sia astonished. The film traces Kanye's quest for redemption and rekindling the flame that binds them together.
However, a closer examination reveals that while the movie is a commendable effort, it still adheres to certain overused elements that have long plagued the Nigerian movie industry.
'Better Half' undoubtedly showcases Ruth Kadiri's directorial and storytelling abilities. The film presents a well-executed narrative that follows the lives of its characters, drawing the audience into their emotional arcs.
The cinematography and production design are visually appealing, giving the movie a polished look. The cast's performances, particularly the lead actors, Uche Montana, Chidi Dike, Detola Jones, Chris Akwarandu, Nanya Chukwuemeka and Gloria Jemadefe, contribute to the overall interest in the movie.
Recycled storyline syndrome
Despite its strengths, 'Better Half' falls victim to the "recycled storyline" syndrome that has become all too common in Nollywood.
The plot, while engaging, treads familiar ground, with themes of love, betrayal, family conflicts and societal pressures. The predictability of the story undermines the movie's potential to stand out as something extraordinary.
This highlights a persistent challenge within Nollywood—innovation and breaking away from clichéd plots.
One of the most disappointing aspects of 'Better Half' is its failure to fully explore unique elements.
The movie introduces promising subplots that could have added depth and complexity to the narrative, but these are often brushed aside in favour of the conventional trajectory. This lack of courage to break away from the norm ultimately dilutes the impact of the film.
Lack of Character Development
While the lead characters are compelling, 'Better Half' struggles with providing adequate character development for its supporting cast.
This is a missed opportunity to flesh out the story's secondary arcs and make the movie more well-rounded. By relying heavily on the central characters, the film misses a chance to create a richer cinematic experience.
'Ruth Kadiri's 'Better Half' is undeniably a commendable effort that showcases her talents and storytelling abilities. It is a step in the right direction for more refined contemporary filmmaking in Nollywood. However, the film's adherence to recycled storylines and its reluctance to fully explore unique elements prevent it from reaching the heights of cinematic excellence.
As Nollywood continues to evolve, filmmakers must break free from the cells of formulaic storytelling and embrace originality to truly stand out on the global stage.