“Breath of Life”: A Review by Deji Yesufu

I am on holidays and visiting a friend at his putsch condo, somewhere in Ikorodu, Lagos. I have had lots to eat, a lot to drink, and a three-day freedom from my children’s troubles. Despite being on holidays, I ensure my morning hours are used for my discipline of reading, writing, and a bit of work too. But I use the evening to watch internet TV. Having seen quite a number of reviews of recent Nigerian movies, and with “Breath of Life” starring Wale Ojo enjoying some positive feedbacks, I thought I should see it on my friend’s internet TV – let me add that I do not own internet TV and might never own one because despite not being Deeper Life, I agree with Pastor W. F. Kumuyi that Television (and all kinds internet useless browsing) are thieves of time; and we all can make better use of our time than watching TV – a digression.

I would begin my review of the movie with the positives. I was entirely enthralled by the use of the various sceneries from Ibadan. Whoever came up with that concept has all my blessings and prayers because I live in Ibadan and I love my city. The producers could have used more sites in Ibadan beyond University of Ibadan, but the mere fact that they showcased a few parts of Ibadan is sufficient for me. I am not sure how much The Chapel of the Resurrection charged them for using their church for the movie, but I think it is fine. My wife and I were married at those altars in December 2009, and the Chapel, which is the official local assembly of the University of Ibadan, is fast becoming an iconic site in the city. So, the producers scored very high with me for coming to Ibadan for the shoots.

Another positive in the movie was the overall good acting put forward by the actors. Different people see different things in movies. I see facial expressions. Are the actors able to translate into the reality of the stories and bring expression to their characters that reflect the essence of the movie? Acting is storytelling but via moving pictures. Too many times, I see great actors fail at producing the right facial expressions in their scenes – probably because they have not entered the skin of their characters. Too many times, the only way Nigerian actors skirt around this challenge is by acting only one role in all movies: there is that actress that knows to act only the wicked mother-in-law; there is that actor that can only act the role of the bad street lover boy; and there are those who can not be anything but grandmothers or grandfathers. Those are the only facial expression they can demonstrate. It would be hard to judge the actors of “Breath of Life” on their facial roles though, since I have not seen any other works they have done. It is however safe to say they lived out their characters well in the movie. I should add quickly that the asthma line was just perfect!

Other positives of the movie were that the cameras used were very good. The use of numerous camera angles, drone shot, etc, was excellent. I could also discern the wise use of resources, not unnecessarily wasting money on high tech productions but ensuring best production from limited equipment which they could afford. The producers of the movie also did well in discovering the young lead actor and actress – Chimezie Imo and Genoveva Umeh. While I consider that Wale Ojo and Ademola Adedoyin were already known actors, the duo of Imo and Umeh was an experiment that was worth taking in the movie. Besides the fact that employing young actors and actresses reduces the budget of a film, when they deliver, it launches them into higher realms in the movie industry. The producers scored a very great high by employing these two. And, in summary the story line was original and very moving. It was a captivating story. Having established the positives, I move to a few negative and this would explain the reason I am giving the movie a generally low grading – see the final paragraphs for the movie’s score.

My first criticism of the movie is the simplistic ending that was provided to it. Whoever wrote the story line of Anna (Umeh) coming into the room of Elijah (Imo) did an excellent job. That situation triggering his asthma and then leading him into the hospital was well thought out. I however do not think that it is realistic for a hardened atheist (Timi) to suddenly give up his philosophy of life and then lay down his life for another to live. It is something a Christian may do; but I do not see a hardened atheist doing such. That line was rather simplistic. I think if the screenwriters had taken their time, they would have successfully provided a link between the young man’s health challenge and recovery without employing those simplistic lines.

Second. I think the kissing scenes were totally unnecessary. Now, I understand that Nigerian movie makers are trying to break into a Western market and would need to sell some eroticism to a community that is depraved in thinking already. I however think that the story line did not need those kissing scenes. Yes, boy and girl meet; and they fall in love, but how many of such love scenes result in such passionate kisses – especially between a “sister” and an aspiring pastor. Now, if that is how pastors treat the young ladies in their churches today, I pity the state of religion in our day.

Having said all these, I should then provide my scoreline to the movie. I give “Breath of Life” a 53%. I think that the negatives took a lot off the movie and made it lose quite some marks on my part. Although, sincerely, I usually would not award more than 47% to most Nigerian movies and so for this one to get 53%, they have done very well as far as I am concerned. The positive part of seeing a movie like this is that movie making in Nigeria is getting better and would get better with time. I should also say that my blog is not a movie review one; it is a place where I express my thoughts on various issues of life, especially religion. I am happy to provide the review, however, and I hope that it adds to the overall success of the movie. I think you should see “Breadth of Life”.

Deji Yesufu is the Pastor of Providence Reformed Baptist Church Ibadan. He is the author of the book HUMANITY.

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