ADVERTISEMENT

What 'Blood Sister' gets right — and wrong — about sibling rivalry

Blood Sister is an examination of sibling rivalry, but is it thorough enough?

Blood Sister was released in 2003

There's naturally a lot for siblings to fight over — who gets the most attention from parents, who should eat the bigger piece of meat, and who gets not to do the dishes. With any luck, the rivalry means nothing more than squabbles that end as quickly as they start.

Before she became Nollywood's sweetheart, glowing with the air of industry royalty and commanding fevered devotion, Genevieve Nnaji was Esther, "a devil with a black heart" in the Tchidi Chikere-directed Blood Sister.

Esther and her older sister, Gloria (Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde), are raised with an iron grip by their widowed mother, played by Patience Ozokwor at her shouty best.

ADVERTISEMENT

The film is immediately marked by the casual cruelty Esther treats Gloria, capitalising on every opportunity to put her in trouble with their impressionable and hot-tempered mother. A little lie here and an unprovoked malicious scheme there build tension that prompts an obvious question: why does one sister hate the other so much? Esther confesses pretty early in the film she's just jealous of her sister because she's smarter and always wins the affection of everyone, especially men.

The jealousy sucks up all the air in Blood Sister as this destructive addiction becomes Esther’s driving ambition. Across the years the sisters grow from young schoolgirls to adults, she ruins her sister's life at every turn. Gloria is constantly criticised or beaten by their mother, loses a lover due to Esther's devious orchestration and eventually loses her life, poisoned by a sister whose evil she only ever repays with love.

Jalade-Ekeinde is the sweet perfect foil as Gloria, naively overlooking her sister's repeated attempts at ruining her life and always trying to build a loving relationship with her.

ADVERTISEMENT

Nnaji delivers a force-of-nature performance, nailing the mean streak that makes Esther a formidable antagonist, a departure from many of her more common sweetheart roles. What makes her terrifying in Blood Sister is she has no redeeming qualities and is driven purely by the jealous hatred she has for a sister she desperately wants to be but finds impossible to match. She plods from one evil plot to another against her sister and, when she needs new targets, her sister's young children.

This isn't without its drawback, because even though Esther's characterisation as the embodiment of evil is effective, it also exposes her as one-dimensional in the way many Nollywood villains are cursed to be. It's the perfect manifestation of the industry's past and present struggles with building characters with nuance and complexity that make them more memorable. Esther is all bad for no well-explored reason other than to tick desired plot points, and she has bad things happen to her as a reward. Gloria is all good and is rewarded with good things, like a rich loving husband who's predictably the ultimate prize her sister considers worth killing for. They’re less developing characters and more, admittedly entertaining, cardboard cutouts to drive the agenda of the story without being affected by it.

The real surprise soul of Blood Sister is Ozokwor who bears the brunt of a murderous sibling rivalry quite impossible to define with any coherence. Of the three central women in the film, she experiences the most meaningful character development — from a mother easily misled to one who finally realises, although too late, the consequences of not being a more discerning parent.

ADVERTISEMENT

The major question Blood Sister leaves anyone from the very first scene through to the last is, "Can siblings be this cruel?" A quick scroll through the metro section of any news publication would suggest the answer is yes, so there's that.

Perhaps, the film's only sin is arriving at that destination by any means necessary, jumping from trope to trope and cliche to cliche to pass the message. It doesn't ruin the watching experience, but maybe a little bit more nuance in the storytelling would have elevated Blood Sister's exploration of why siblings bicker, and how a rivalry between sisters can reasonably become unhealthy enough to end in cold-blooded murder.

Enhance Your Pulse News Experience!

Get rewards worth up to $20 when selected to participate in our exclusive focus group. Your input will help us to make informed decisions that align with your needs and preferences.

I've got feedback!

JOIN OUR PULSE COMMUNITY!

Unblock notifications in browser settings.
ADVERTISEMENT

Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or:

Email: eyewitness@pulse.ng

Recommended articles

BFA and Co Legal Orchestrates Landmark Deal: Davido launches Nine+ Records with UnitedMasters

BFA and Co Legal Orchestrates Landmark Deal: Davido launches Nine+ Records with UnitedMasters

Phyna rejects new offers from BBNaija sponsors as meeting ends in deadlock

Phyna rejects new offers from BBNaija sponsors as meeting ends in deadlock

Disney's 'Madu' director is working on a documentary on Chibok girls 'The Harvest'

Disney's 'Madu' director is working on a documentary on Chibok girls 'The Harvest'

Timeline of Nelly & Ashanti's romance and expecting their first child 21 years later

Timeline of Nelly & Ashanti's romance and expecting their first child 21 years later

Ruger & BNXN describe their joint project as 'synergy at its finest'

Ruger & BNXN describe their joint project as 'synergy at its finest'

Daniel Oriahi's film 'The Weekend' selected for 2024 Tribeca Film Festival

Daniel Oriahi's film 'The Weekend' selected for 2024 Tribeca Film Festival

Seyi Vibez was the most streamed artist in Nigeria from Jan - March 2024

Seyi Vibez was the most streamed artist in Nigeria from Jan - March 2024

I didn’t delete anything - Ruger defends tweet after accusations of promoting rape culture

I didn’t delete anything - Ruger defends tweet after accusations of promoting rape culture

Rihanna wants to be on a collaboration with Tems & Ayra Starr

Rihanna wants to be on a collaboration with Tems & Ayra Starr

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT