Fifty records like a ropey TV drama set for release on a channel facing liquidation. It has no structure, no authenticity and no craft beyond what might be stolen from an acting class: a poor rehearsal of a scene in which two characters tell each other “I love you”. Perhaps the only memorable turn of phrase in the film, and not for any of the right reasons.
Dakore Akande, a celebrity in Nigeria, plays reality TV show host, Tola, who is preparing for her fiftieth birthday party (two decades too soon it seems). In the meantime, she faces a catalogue of personal struggles, which include the connections of three friends, also Nigerian woman from a wealthy neighbourhood in Lagos. Their stories could easily feature on a nightly soap: so-and-so got pregnant, had an affair, contracted an illness, gossiped at a party, and so on.
It is advertised as a love story, but this is not one – it wants to be a love story. There is no chemistry between any of the cast reverent of audience attention or concern; it is a heap of tarnished strutting about the screen featuring forced expressions and distasteful attitudes. The film could be far more interesting if it channelled a particular theme or emotion, or if it offered some critique on the class and regime widespread in Lagos, rather than its bouncy affair with a collective of sun-dried material.
Biyi Bandele is the director in charge of pulling together these sunken sequences, the montage and acting both inundated with fever. Performances are consistently colourless, even if the palette and multitude of locations have more to offer. There is some energy to be found in this film, the soundtrack relentless in its pop offerings and offbeat approach to the content, and the premature humour no doubt a joy for a few. There will be an audience for this film, just like there is for many frowzy shows, but this is not something for cinema.
Fifty does not have a UK release date yet. This is part of the Love competition in the 59th London Film Festival.
Watch the trailer for Fifty here: