Come With Me takes the audience through a spectrum of emotions — from trepidation to profound realisation and, ultimately, to redemption.
By Joseph Jonathan
I first encountered the talented Baaj Adebule in 2018, through the still-running Nigerian web series, The Men’s Club, created and directed by Tola Odunsi. In the series, Adebule flawlessly embodies the character of Louis Okafor, injecting humour and effervescence into the story. While he’s had quite a successful career as an actor, his directorial debut with Come With Me is a transition I welcomed with excitement. This move from being in front of the camera to stepping behind it, reflects a promising evolution in his multifaceted creative journey, leaving audiences expectant as to what storytelling prowess he brings to the fore.
Come With Me is a story about a timid orphaned girl, Samira (Goodness Emmanuel), who lives with her half-brother, Jason (Ayoola Ayolola) in their father’s house located within an underdeveloped estate. When Jason leaves for a business trip, Samira’s friends, Ndina (Maria Nepembe) and Tinu (Yemisi Fancy) persuade her into a girls’ night out, where she encounters the charming Ben (Baaj Adebule). They have a good time and encouraged by her friends, Samira invites Ben to her home. But what begins as a seemingly ordinary night out quickly spirals into a tale of betrayal and survival that has Samira fighting for her life.
With a screenplay by Michael Osuji and Adebule, the plot builds suspense slowly, and carefully explores greed, dishonesty, redemption, the power of choice, the complexities of trust and the fragility of familial bonds. The film explores the stark reality of danger and insecurity in Nigeria, particularly shedding light on the vulnerability of women as easy targets for criminals, and the unsettling lack of protection from law enforcement agencies. Here, we find an intricately woven narrative that challenges preconceived notions, urging viewers to recognise that danger often lurks, not in random and ominous strangers, but within one’s inner circle, or from otherwise seemingly reserved individuals.
Part of what works with the story is its simplicity. The complicated relationship between Samira and Jason is reflected in Jason’s overbearing attitude. Jason exerts such an overbearing nature that even in his absence, Samira feels the need to keep him updated on her every move. This makes his revelation all the more shocking as the film reaches its climax. Also, while Inspectors Lawal (Emem Ufot) and Kalu (Dorothy Kwofie) lend some comic relief as inept police officers, to an otherwise serious plot, they embody a need for reforms in the police. Although their delivery sometimes comes off as trying too hard with the repetition of lines and their crass facial expressions.
Conversely, there is a disconnect between the emotions the plot should carry and the performance of the actors. For a film that explores deep social issues, there are a few emotional tethers that could make the audience connect with the characters on screen. Goodness Emmanuel, as a lead actor, doesn’t carry the emotions that the role requires, unlike her better performance in The Griot (2021) where she adeptly portrayed the bliss of love, the kindred heart of friendship, and the pain of betrayal. In Come With Me, the chemistry with her co-actors was bare; the rapport between her and her friends wasn’t enough to show the strength of their friendship. Ben, too, as a love interest turned villain, felt too animated and often emotionless, such that it was difficult to relate to his internal conflict. Roy (Eric Nwanso), as Ben’s accomplice also falters in his portrayal of a villain and aside from his possession of a gun, he hardly looks menacing.
Despite the frailties, there are, undeniably, commendable aspects in Come With Me that warrant applause. Notably, Daniel Ehimen’s cinematography skillfully captures the eerie atmosphere that envelops the sparsely populated estate where Samira lives. This adept portrayal contributes significantly to the depth of the unfolding drama, creating a palpable backdrop for the story. The film introduces the audience to the ominous nature of Ben’s character through the strategic use of flashbacks, maintaining an enigmatic suspense. This deliberate withholding of complete information sparks curiosity; audiences are aware that something is awry with Ben, but the intricacies of his plan remain elusive. The film’s use of lighting emerges as a noteworthy element, effectively conveying the internal conflicts affecting the characters, adding thin layers to their complexities and enhancing the overall cinematic experience.
Come With Me takes the audience through a spectrum of emotions — from trepidation to profound realisation and, ultimately, to redemption. The film serves as a poignant exploration of the perils faced by Nigerian women, aiming to broaden minds and emphasise the need for better awareness. With a simple narrative, the film endeavours to be more than entertainment, aspiring to spark conversations and provoke contemplation on the pressing issue of personal safety and women’s vulnerability in Nigeria.
(Come With Me is streaming on Prime Video)
Joseph Jonathan is a historian who seeks to understand how film shapes our cultural identity as a people. He believes that history is more about the future than the past. When he’s not writing about film, you can catch him listening to music or discussing politics. He tweets @JosieJp3