"The Arbitration" promotional materials were hot, with its superb cast playing out the 'sexual harassment theme' of the film in the trailer and teaser.
I expected a movie on sexual harassment at place of work, office politics and most especially, rape. Watching the movie, I saw one that told an interesting and entertaining 'love gone sour' story.
Synopsis."The Arbitration" tells the story of Gbenga (O.C Ukeje) and his employee Dara (Adesua Etomi) who had an affair. After the affair ended and Dara left the company, she sued Gbenga and accused him of rape. An arbitration panel was constituted to find out the truth.
Despite its official synopsis, the movie isn't one that addresses a rape case with the aim of having a winner or loser. It probably subconsciously raises the question "when is 'rape' really 'rape?' But it isn't that movie addressing one of the most topical recent issues in Nigeria.
However, it is an interesting and brilliantly scripted Nollywood movie, which focuses on a hardworking young woman fighting to get back everything she worked and laboured for.
The movie kicks off introducing Gbenga as a rich billionaire who can afford the best lawyer to get him out of a rape lawsuit, except there isn't a judge, but an arbitrator (Sola Fosudo).
We also get to meet the confident lawyer Omawumi Horsfall (Somkele) and the overconfident lawyer, Funlayo Johnson (Ireti Doyle). Then we meet the claimant Dara Olujobi, who was supposedly raped by her married boss and ex lover, and forced to give up her shares worth millions, after their affair ended.
Recently, most Nollywood movies can't be faulted when it comes to picture quality as most films tend to focus heavily on that, shifting from the core of filmmaking which is the story and its interpretation. However, "The Arbitration" offers a fresh and original story scripted by Chinaza Onuzo, and stellar performances from cast led by Ireti Doyle.
"The Arbitration" is one that comes with intelligent conversations which stands out from the accustomed awkward romantic exchanges, and not-so-funny dialogue found in most Nollywood comedy movies.
From Brymo's "Femi" to Annie Lennox's "I Put a Spell on You," the film's music is quintessential, and moves in a manner conforming with the film's story and narrative.
Talking about the visual effects of the film, the movie isn't one with too many lens flare that spoils a film or distracts.
"The Arbitration" is an intelligent script, brought to life by a talented director, Niyi Akinmolayan. Hislatest outing as a director passes with flying colors, demonstrating how his craft has grown since his last cinema outing "Falling."
Despite the film’s screenplay moving back and forth on a round table in a room with an arbitrator presiding over the proceedings, it is still easy to connect with the characters and their various emotions.
Now, can we talk about the performances? Unlike most Nollywood movies, the film doesn't depend on a particular cast to be brought to life. It rides completely on the shoulders of its stellar cast.
Sola Fosodo as the arbitrator does an amazing job, however, the makers' idea of giving his character amusing ties seems to lessen his overall seriousness as an arbitrator.
Ireti Doyle handles her character as a no-nonsense professional lawyer with perfection and class. Doyle as Funlayo Johnson is without doubt one of the best performances so far for the year. And from "Fifty" to "The Arbitration," Doyle hasn't taken a step back towards being a complete performer.
OC Ukeje excels in playing his character Gbenga Sanni with utmost conviction and confidence. Adesua Etomi as Dara Olujobi brings in the complete Etomi quotient to the film and acts her part very well.
The ease with which Somkele as Omawumi Horsfallis brought to life, is completely adorable, praiseworthy, and screams talent...
The magnetism between Dara and Gbenga is applaudable. Something about their combination presents movie lovers with yet another scorching on-chemistry. Not only do their sexy scenes resonate, but also their banter, and fight scenes.
Gregory Ojefua impressed us in "Suru L'ere." He was an interesting part of "Not Just Married," and he held his part once again in "The Arbitration." However, I found his character a bit exaggerated and unrealistic - he is a geek not a twerp. In a bid to portray him as a comic relief, the character came off as exaggerated and unintelligent. I also hope Ojefua's talent doesn't get concealed in comic characters that just help to move stories forward - he deserves more.
The scene featuring the arbitrator and his paralegal (Lota Chukwu), her response to his 'what do you think of this case?' question, and her illustration, are as realistic as a real life event can get. A response I would love to believe as a viewer played a pivotal role, and helped the arbitrator make his final decision. A response that explains that life can't always be a movie, and sometimes humans are forced to make desperate decisions to move further.
"The Arbitration" is a movie that requires the viewers utmost attention as it uses the flashback technique to take viewers through the various accounts - get distracted, and get confused.
On the whole, "The Arbitration" is a brilliantly scripted movie which is engaging and funny at times. It is a movie I totally recommend for a movie lover interested in an intelligent and refreshing Nollywood movie.
It opens in cinemas on Friday, August 12, 2016.