Movie Review | In Ibadan (2020)

Opening title card. Via Centrestage Productions/ ContentDocks

In Ibadan, Taiwo Egunjobi’s debut feature film, opens with quick snapshots of cultural heritages in Ibadan and it follows the story of two young lovers, Obafemi (Temiloluwa Fosudo) and Ewa (Goodness Emmanuel). Their love story was cut short due to Ewa’s decision to move to Lagos, which tore them apart  for five years until Ewa’s unexpected return. Their love story reached a roadblock due to differing dreams—Ewa’s unexpected wish to move to Lagos in order to kick start her career and Obafemi’s dream of tiling God’s given land and finding success in Ibadan. With this sudden change of event, Obafemi had no choice but to sadly move on with his life, working towards his dream of owning a farm, while Ewa started a family of her own.

Goodness Emmanuel and Temiloluwa Fosudo in the movie, In Ibadan. Via Centrestage Productions/ ContentDocks

Apart from the glaring concept of love which is depicted in the movie, it is also woven around deceit, greed, betrayal and obsession which are conveyed through different characters. Also, the 1hr 24min movie stresses the importance of friendship. While the film highlights the effects of heartbreak and the rough patch of “growing together or growing apart” that is usually faced by young lovers. Ewa’s involvement with Obafemi after she returns from Lagos shows that former lovers can still be friends, not in all cases but it is possible, even if they desire more. 

For a debut movie, it boasts a lot of symbolism. The scenes featuring  the brown roofs in In Ibadan reflect its ancient civilisation and its longevity. Each carefully taken shot of places in In Ibadan reeks of history and symbolises the refusal of the past to pave way for modernity. The love between Obafemi and Ewa can be likened to these brown roofs of Ibadan, a love that refuses to give up on its rich past—it is like their past lives remaining in their present. They can’t let go of the past, hence Ewa’s constant visit  and Obafemi’s moody nature throughout the movie.

Just like most Nollywood movies, the director tries to instill the belief that Lagos is the centre of success due to the many opportunities the city presents. Ewa went to Lagos for a fresh start in her career, or so she thought, until she returned to Ibadan and memories of the past came flooding back like she never left. Ibadan serves as the only quiet and peaceful place for the lovers, away from the painful five years ‘hole’ that Lagos inflicted on them. The beautiful shots of places in the movie is an honour to the city’s vibrant past and rich history. The shots are used to showcase the city’s vintage look—not new but valued — just like their relationship.

A flashback with a soulful music rendition. Via Centrestage Productions/ ContentDocks

Furthermore, music is an important aspect of In Ibadan, one that shapes the memories shared between the two lovers. The score (by Joshua Ohia) was arranged to pass its own messages across to viewers in the cultural Yoruba language. However, it is not all of those choices that hit the mark. The sound effects used in the opening scene of the movie seem out of place and do not go along with the quick snapshots of the cultural locations in Ibadan. It is more of a funeral hymn, maybe to alert viewers that the movie will be a sad one, inviting us to be a participant for a funeral of love which some viewers might duly mourn along. 

A brooding Obafemi. Via Centrestage Productions/ ContentDocks

Sadly, Obafemi does little or nothing to give life to the movie, he is just a brooding human who aches for the love he once had, but painfully left him. His broodiness throughout the movie makes the movie a little bit tiring, carrying emotions which could also transfer to the viewer as mourning love in real life could also be tiring for those around the ‘bereaved’. The sudden appearance of Ewa in Obafemi’s life, as expected, brings problems along due to Ewa’s obsessive husband, Aremu (Babatunde Aderinoye). The director presents a good story but it is not effectively depicted due to the actors used, but marks  a start of something for the upcoming actors— I mean Rome wasn’t built in a day. However, supporting actor, Chris Anyanya, embodies the character of Samuel so well that he helps bring the character to life and is a vivid representation of how thin the rope of trust is, not only in the movie but also in the real world.

Taiwo Egunjobi’s In Ibadan goes beyond a love story, it presents something more. The film goes beyond its primary romantic story and switches from being a romantic comedy, even to a drama and thriller at some point, then to the final moments of ‘fantasy’. In Ibadan speaks to the futility of life and man’s adamance for going for things that might never be. The return of Ewa and the problem it brings along shows how unpredictable life is no matter how well we plan. With these few characters, the director relays a wide range of human voices and vices through them. This movie, made under low budget, carried the potential to achieve more with a deeper pocket, and it might just be an alert for prospective investors to come woo the director in his own city, Ibadan.

Side Musings

  • You will clearly see that Obafemi is a true Ibadan man who is proud of his city. Down to his car license plate, he represents Ibadan (NRK), which is something most people do not do. Everyday na so so IKJ.
  • I can not remember one moment Obafemi smiles in the movie, probably when going through his box of memories.
  • The scriptwriters did an awesome job in mixing English, Yoruba and pidgin English just like we speak it in real life, most especially amongst close friends. Obafemi and Samuel’s friendship though!
  • Ibadan residents watching the movie would hardly keep their eyes off the screen. The next scene might just be a place you visited a day before.
  • Despite the lack of resources, special attention is put to some technical details which makes it an engaging watch. with such efforts, we are reminded of their capability. The frame noticeably changes when a memory is being recollected. Such attention to aesthetic makes up for the other lacking aspects regarding the obvious sound mixing issues which still did not ruin the story.

Our Nollywood Model Checklist tally 

  • An aerial shot of a road in Lagos: 
  • Instagram/Internet superstars (that cannot act): 
  • Sloppily placed ads: 
  • Crass comedy: 
  • A handful of standout actors: 
  • A sprinkle of old Nollywood actors: 
  • A novel idea ruined by poor execution:
    • This makes it officially the first Nollywood movie on WKMUp to fall outside the box. None of the elements constantly seen in mainstream Nollywood appears in the movie.

In Ibadan can be watched for free here. Watch the trailer below.

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