Eyimofe: This Is My Desire
Twin directors Chuko and Arie Esiri make their debut appearance at London Film Festival with Nigerian drama Eyimofe: This Is My Desire. The brothers’ first feature-length project has already graced the festival circuit with a showing at Berlinale earlier this year. The movie has resonated with audiences far and wide as it endeavours to capture the difficulties and harsh realities of life within the capital city of Lagos – a place where family strains and financial pressures can ruthlessly destroy dreams in a heartbeat.
Broken up into two parts, Eyimofe: This Is My Desire tells the separate stories of engineer and handyman Mofe (Jude Akuwudike) and bartender Rosa (Temi Ami-Williams). Both are incredibly hard-working individuals who dream of a life elsewhere if only their circumstances would allow it. Mofe works several jobs, steadily raising money for a stable standard of living, but finds his dreams shattered when tragedy strikes his family and his estranged father wades back into his life. Rosa weaves a narrative of youthful innocence as she cares for her pregnant younger sister, Grace (Cynthia Ebijie), and struggles to make ends meet. Together these tales provide eye-opening insight into very real stories that aren’t often told.
There is a lot to love about this picture. It is incredibly charming – blessed with a beautiful colour palette and pleasing cinematography as a result of being shot on 16mm film. Admirable, albeit expensive, this filming decision is one that gives the movie a timeless feel, whilst also constructing a warm and authentic ambience of the bustling environments it depicts. The feature is as well-acted as it is executed, with Ami-Williams proving to be a shining starlet in a cast comprising a mix of fresh and familiar faces. Akuwudike too is captivating as we witness his character suffer almost in silence, anguishing internally and alone with each twist and turn of his story. These performances, accompanied by an emotional and culturally inspired score enable the movie to become so much more than a simple flick about struggling individuals.
The pacing is however a little slow at times, dragging its feet as we follow the characters about their daily lives. The narrative lacks the drive that would create a sense of impending danger or excitement – this extra element would elevate the plot to the next level. It could be argued that the film is slightly too long, featuring characters who wish to leave the city, but never actually do – not necessarily filling the expectations that nearly two hours of cinema demands. A broader world with more roles and subplots might add a bolder splash of colour to Eyimofe by stating more assuredly what our protagonists’ desires actually are. Even so, it remains a moving experience and proud addition to the international expansion of New Wave Nigerian cinema.
Eyimofe: This Is My Desire does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2020 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.