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“One Too Many” Review: “Sorrows, Sorrows, Prayers” for the Listless Moments in the Kayode Kasum-Directed Film

“One Too Many” Review: “Sorrows, Sorrows, Prayers” for the Listless Moments in the Kayode Kasum-Directed Film

One Too Many - review - Afrocritik

With no room for mild or deep introspection, One Too Many loses important messages it aims to pass while in transit, and becomes riddled with countless how-did-we-get-here moments. 

By Seyi Lasisi 

For a while, I took a break from watching and reviewing Nollywood films and TV series, and for deserved reasons. For one, life happens, with other creative pursuits taking possession of my time and attention. But the primary reason for my hiatus is this: In a bid to avoid being a “serial complainer” – as used by Nigerian writer Carl Terver – I took a break from Nollywood productions. Mainstream films and TV series with their filmmakers, are safely secure in a position with no motivation to change things. This languid state of inertia has taken hold of film productions, and with how trite the films being made have become,  it is almost impossible to watch a Nollywood film without raising eyebrows multiple times. However, despite my subtle intention to avoid the “serial complaint” tag, there is still a need to actively review these films. The reason is simple: To document and serve as a cultural vigilante for the fledgling film industry. And with that comes the Kayode Kasum-directed One Too Many

One Too Many revolves around a weakly and idly traversed intimate story of a single mother Adesuwa (Dakore Egbuson-Akande) and her only child, Otas (Chimezie Imo).   In tiny doses, the film informs us of the relationship between the duo. In one of their conversations, we learn that though they have a possible happy relationship, there are unanswered questions between mother and son. To understand the mother’s decision to be tight-lipped, we have to journey through her past, where we meet Amos (Ikponmwosa Gold), her loving father, her mother (Rhoda Albert) who constantly needs her attention in the market, and her unspoken sister, Ehi (Omowunmi Dada), who we will later realise, has an unresolved jealousy towards her. 

In these occasional flashbacks, there are anecdotes of Adesuwa’s traumatic experience, one she is shielding herself and her son from in the present. Although this never quite lands, one of the film’s themes is police brutality. Adesuwa’s family is well-accustomed to the nefarious activities of police officers. Adesuwa and her father have been victims of their vile actions. In the present day, Otas is on the cusp of becoming a victim, too, after he mistakenly kills his childhood friend, Eric (Joshua Richard). To avoid this generational trend and prevent the unjustified imprisonment of Otas, Adesuwa decides to tell the world her long-kept secrets. 


This is where the deep and myriad problems with the film begin. Written by Ginika Ozioko and Jeanine Okafor, from a story by Atinuke Akande, the film’s plot progression does a huge disservice to the story it aims to capture. The pacing of each subplot, with the lack of attention to any,  makes them feel like it is a relay race. Subplot A is hastily running towards subplot B and B is, in an out-of-breath manner, pacing towards the finish line. With no room for mild or deep introspection, the film loses important messages it aims to pass while in transit, and becomes riddled with countless how-did-we-get-here moments. 

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Still from One Too Many

Earlier in One Too Many, the film establishes Otas as a young adult who is obedient and reliant on his mother’s protection. But, when he gets arrested, how he suddenly loses hope within a few days in prison and becomes cold towards his mother is unfathomable. While Eric appears wealthier than Otas, when during the lawsuit we begin to see a case of the rich versus the poor, the film loses its sense of logic. These illogical moments littered around make it almost impossible to watch the film without stopping to catch a breath.

It is a well-established fact that our personal lives often orbit in a pattern with that of where we reside. This implies that even when you religiously pray with divine amulets, cautiously avoid police officers, and obsessively dote on your children, one harmless move, and they are spending unjustifiable years in Nigerian prisons for reasons that are as mysterious as God’s ways. Thus, when the film picks a political tone and links it to the tragic End SARS massacre that claimed the lives of countless Nigerian youth, it is appreciated. In a country where government officials are trying to erase a national catastrophe despite footage proving otherwise, the film’s attempt at cinematic documentation of this story is commendable. But that is where it all ends. The story’s development, much like its Nigerian sibling, Collision Course, hasn’t earned the right to take this tone or tackle this theme. The film trivialises this traumatic experience it tends to honour.

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Another painful aspect of the film is the director’s inability to energetically guide the cast’s performances. The active direction of the actors’ interpretation of roles, body movement, and facial demeanour which entrench the verisimilitude of their performance is lacking.  Aside from Gold — who is a frequent face in Kasum’s films — and Imo on a few occasions, there is a noticeable failure to guide the actors’ movement. For a director who made Kambili, Oga Bolaji, and Obara’M, where actors, including the child actors, bring a sense of intimacy and urgency to their roles, the directing here is fragile. In One Too Many, the actors’ disposition is akin to the depleted look on the face of someone who has spent hours waiting at a bank hall – a truly depressing scene to behold. Even for Adesuwa, who is supposedly passing through emotional turmoil, Egbuson’s face and body movements don’t betray any depravity.

Dakore Egbusun - One Too Many - Afrocritik 

While I watch the film, the bond we share with the Adesuwa and Otas is that despite the bright smile and seemingly organised life they have, like most of us, they carry trauma. And within seconds, our well-organised life can collapse, due to the malicious deeds of police officers. Thus,  while the film is riddled with numerous overwhelming moments, the tragic story of a mother and son might solicit emotions from certain viewers. 

Rating: 2.5/5

(One Too Many is currently streaming on Netflix)

Seyi Lasisi is a Nigerian student with an obsessive interest in Nigerian and African films as an art form. His film criticism aspires to engage the subtle and obvious politics, sentiments, and opinions of the filmmaker to see how they align with reality. He tweets @SeyiVortex. Email:

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