I, like many Nigerians, have witnessed the craziness that comes with commuting in Nigeria’s public transport system. Drivers behave like the world's burdens are thrust heavily on their shoulders, and passengers would cast aspersions at you, like you had offended them in a previous lifetime.
‘U-Turn’ effectively portrays the challenges and humanity that exist in Nigeria's transport experience [Pulse Review]
The movie is a brilliant exploration into this country’s chaotic transportation system.
Coupled with Nigeria's bad road network and police extortion, commuting or traveling in Nigeria is as herculean as tasks might seem, and this is why a movie like ‘U-Turn’ comes off as very relatable.
Directed by Gabriel Afolayan and Uche Agbambu, the movie follows a passenger, Chukwudinma (Gabriel Afolayan), the driver (Olaiya Igwe) transporting him from Lagos to Ibadan, and how the duo interface in a situation where their intentions are hidden from each other.
In the course of their journey, they face a lot of challenges, get to know each other better, and derail their dark intentions, gaining clearer perspectives on issues they once held dear.
In general, the movie is a stellar work of filmmaking. The way it shifts from addressing its core themes, while adequately balancing the narrative with examining stereotypes and perspectives is a huge credit to the movie producers.
The exceptional acting of both Gabriel Afolayan and Olaiya Igwe also elicits the necessary emotions needed to comprehend the movie's core messages, whilst also appreciating the realities and humor of their experiences in hindsight, making the movie very comical yet realistic.
Its cinematography also helps in elevating the movie's importance, in its path towards creating the necessary sphere for the movie's themes to effectively materialize.
The movie is a treatise on how human experiences define our worldviews, and how individuals should be ready to adapt to change in the face of truthful realities. This is seen in how Kamoru patiently listens to the advice of Chukwudinma on parental upbringing and planning.
It also passes the message of how wisdom radiates from better perspectives, not age, and how humans should interact to find common ground toward peaceful interrelationships and mutual understanding.
The movie also tries its best at appreciating tradition and eulogizing its role in contemporary development in African societies. This can be seen in the constant tributes to the traditional way of life as the best way to live, while simultaneously blaming contemporary problems on modernism and elitism.
The film also perfectly balances this perspective with the realization that elitism should be a catalyst towards improved thought processes and that traditional beliefs might come off as archaic in modern contexts.
It is also admirable how the movie often comes to a middle ground in the resolution of some of its messages, leaving it for the audience to pass judgement and grab lessons from the scenario.
This is seen in the debate between Chukwudinma and Kamoru on the safety of smoking cigarettes and the consumption of kolanuts; a contrasting display of the evils that might be attached to the adoption of primitive and modern worldviews without adequate examination of the benefits of adhering to these views.
As earlier stated, the essence of the project explicitly portrays the realities of road travel in Nigeria, and how each character battles challenges that might not be apparent upon first appearance.
In its portrayal of realities, the garage troubles, the driver-passenger conflicts and the driver rivalries come off as very instructive in this regard.
Also, the challenges both Chukwudinma and Kamoru face in their lives are not apparent at first glance, passing the message of kindness and goodness towards newly-met people, as their actions might not be reflections of their personalities, but rather exhibitions of their pressures and frustration.
The movie weakens along the way when there is a face-off between the characters of Olaiya Igwe and Muyiwa Adegoke in their driver conflict, where they both refuse to let each other pass through.
Although it shows a reflective reality of Nigeria's transport system, it comes off as a weak exhibition of a cameo featuring a litany of popular actors cramped in a bus. Also, the sound effects in the scene do not come off great (Wale Elesho’s voice was not clearly audible), rubbing the movie off its shine.
The film's U-Turn shows in Kamoru’s determination to desist from his evil intention, and Chukwudinma’s battle with his conscience.
Here, both parties’ initial cat-and-mouse relationship dissolves into friendship, which leads to mutual respect for their talents and potential, directing them both to life-changing experiences and opportunities.
‘U-Turn’ is an essential delve into Nigeria's transport and societal realities and exhibits the importance of respect and goodness. It also serves as a treatise on the examination of worldviews and addresses popular stereotypes in societal contexts.
It is a good exploration of quality filmmaking and is highly recommended as a must-watch movie.
Critic's Rating: 8 stars out of 10.
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