It sounds preposterous, doesn’t it? A gathering of mourners somewhere in our very own Nigeria are crying and singing hymns and delivering speeches to honour a dog. Heading the mourners is Colonel (Muyiwa Ademola), who is near tears, reminiscing his affection for his murdered dog, Major. Hidden in the crowd are the dog’s murderers, present only to hear their fate dictated by the colonel. But these three ‘murderers’, Toba (Akinola Akano), Gboyega (Mofeyintoluwa Jebutu), and Brom Theophilus (Samuel Olasehinde), have done something worse than just kill a dog. They also have the weight of manslaughter to bear; a young woman, relative to the Colonel, who they have secretly buried; whose corpse now threatens to reveal its murderers. The young lady died in the prequel, Yawa (2020), consequence of a one night stand. You see, the dog is the least of their problems, but at the time of its burial, it is their biggest problem, and from that point, it conflates the problems of the story.
Directed by Ṣeun Afọlábí, Yawa: Aja Colonel is comedy veiling itself as a thriller—cue Samuel Omotosho as Bro. Theophilus, throwing hilarious jabs at various characters throughout the film. The film, however, doesn’t realize the aforementioned premise should be its narrative core, so it pursues the other, more obvious premise: three young men trying to cover up a manslaughter. Doing this steers the viewer away from the comedic to more serious questions on moralism; a fun-ride now boggled by ethical conundrum. And once this genre threshold is crossed, conflated as such, the film never completely recovers. It never gets a grip of what one thing it wishes to be; a thriller of anti-heroes escaping justice; a preposterous comedy about a Colonel mourning a dog.
This doesn’t deny the film’s moments of brilliance, genuine periods of humour, thrills, and the very rare moments where both are balanced successfully. How a movie closes shows what it thinks of itself, and Yawa: Aja Colonel, plays the thriller card. It is a movie clearly yearning to be one thing and tilting to the other end. The shocking excellence of this situation is that it could easily have succeeded being both.
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- The film’s lean towards comedy makes some of its plot decisions forgivable; like a single military personnel on the case of a Colonel’s missing relative. Or that same resource suddenly diverted to find the killer of a ‘beloved’ dog. All is fair under the veil of humour.
- Those young men seem too smart to bury that woman in their neighbourhood. And to also find that the corpse is beside Colonel’s house. And to find that the girl is related to the Colonel. The coincidences mount uncomfortably.
Yawa 2: Aja Colonel is now streaming on Meroe Stream. Watch here.