The directing in Soólè is poor, and the screenplay, an irredeemable piece of incompetence.
By Blessing Chinwendu Nwankwo
Soólè explores the Nigerian likeness for free things, “Oshofree” — a colloquial slang popular among Nigerians and used to describe “a person who likes free things.” The movie shows a group of soólè passengers analysing how to share a sum of money that does not belong to them.
We go on to see a man who abandons his heavily pregnant wife alone at night out of his egregious intent to stay and partake in the money sharing. While Soólè starts on a promising note, it has the most unbelievable yet exhausting plot. It is safe to say it is yet another movie plagued by the monotonous storyline and archetype of Nollywood directors. Soólè, although with new twists, is another story where the cast comes across life-changing money. And just like Sugar Rush, Money Miss Road, and Dwindle, there is always a group of bad guys after the same money.
Soólè is a 2021 production from Film Trybe’s director, Kayode Kasum (Oga Bolaji, Ilé Owó, Kambili: the whole 30 yards). Just making its Netflix debut on October 14th, 2022, it has been on the top 10 watch list in Nigeria till now. Unfortunately, the film does not do enough to deserve the fanfare it is getting.
Soólè, coined from the word, “drop,” in the Yoruba language of Western Nigeria, is a fast and cheap means of transportation. As my mum will describe the ride, it is “affordable, easy to get and filled with lots of drama.” The film, as the name implies, spends most of its running minutes with the cast in transit from Lagos to Enugu. It is almost as though the story plans to follow a similar path as the movie, Lagos to Benin, featuring a cast led by Bolaji Amusan, a.k.a. Mr Latin, in a soólè ride from Lagos to Benin.
The film is jam-packed with subplots that are barely touched on and could be more developed —the soólè experience, social and religious beliefs, and the Nigerian December mindset, to name a few. Although we love what the script did with the cast mix, there is no backstory as to how they all met and their actual mission. Like many of Kasum’s films, Soólè is star-studded, with the cast underdeveloped, and actions unaccounted for.
This pattern of filmmaking, brought on by his indecision to either make comedies or use them as a tool to express serious events, is slowly becoming a defining force for Kasum. He needs a break to realign and rebuild his focus, to enhance proper introspection and self-discovery. The directing in Soólè is poor, and the screenplay, an irredeemable piece of incompetence.
Soólè starts with the driver (Shawn Faqua) deliberating on how to double his hustle for the forthcoming Christmas celebration. Hence, he uses his boss’s trolley bus for soólè and faces numerous unforeseen events on his way.
The film features a hypocritical pastor (Ikponmwosa Gold), a diabolic man (Femi Jacobs), a misjudged girl (Meg Otanwa), and an undercover duo (Teniola Aladese and Mike Afolarin). Others are Adunni Ade (Silent Baron), Lateef Adedimeji (Prophetess), Bukunmi Oluwashina (Citation), Sola Sobowale (Anikulapo) and Kelechi Udegbe (Collision Course). Soólè is confident in picking its cast and their personalities alike. However, it is all over the place, with intertwined dialogues and subplots that do not marry.
When a movie has a distorted focus but gathers A-list actors with underdeveloped characters, it becomes a recipe for disaster. Soólè is a chock-full of untapped potential. It is a story that spends time and resources on trivial issues leaving the viewers with many unanswered questions: why would someone waybill such a large amount? Who makes such stops on the highway? Also, what was all that unnecessary bus conversation? And how does the driver get an abdomen shot while kneeling at gun level?
All this is left unanswered as the movie marches on with no attempt to properly close the bus chapter or give details on what happened with the rest of the cast. As a frequent subscriber to Nollywood films, first-hand experience has proven that whenever a movie is hyped, it fails to meet the expectations built. However, I still put my best bet on Soólè, which turned out to be an epic fail. As one of the characters rightly said, “Even a bad clock is correct twice a day.” Not this clock, I guess.
Although its attempt to make a quick switch from comedy to serious events was not the smoothest, Kasum’s Soólè stands out with its delve into the subplot of Sobowale’s being a kidnapper who runs a baby factory. It is a fresh angle, enlightening and unexpected. However, the movie spends valuable time on frivolities and does not get the chance to explore the content here.
The director brings onboard the perfect cast to execute this script but underuses their skills. At some point, most of their acting seemed forced and surreal. Also, while Sobowale narrowly escapes being typecast, her role is nothing new. The veteran actor once again shows her fierce theatrical performance in her role as a Mafian commander.
Soólè is a decent watch, and even more, memorable and loved by viewers. These are for its originality and Nigerianness. Hence, it is a story an average Nigerian has experienced. Thankfully, Soólè is not one of Kasum’s recent artistic deliveries. Hopefully, he will do better with new productions, especially with how he merges subplots and his closing to scripts.
(Watch Soólè on Netflix)
Blessing Chinwendu Nwankwo, a film critic, beautician, and accountant, currently writes from Lagos State, Nigeria. Feel free to drop your opinion in the comment session below, and connect with her on Twitter @Glowup_by_bee.