Written and Produced by Biodun Stephens (The Visit) and directed by Tope Alake, Picture Perfect is billed as a romantic comedy for obvious marketing reasons. While it has its moments of comic gold, the film is by and large, a drama about real life complications, second chances and making the most out of knotty situations.
Kumbi (Mary Remmy Njoku, who also doubles as producer,) is a young clothes maker cohabiting with her bestie, Kiksy (Big Brother Naija’s Bisola Aiyeola). On a late night delivery to a distressed client, her car breaks down and she is rescued from all of the dangers a young lady out on the streets of Lagos at night can find herself in by an aggressive tout, Jobe played with both hilarity and compassion by Bolanle Ninolowo.
Jobe helps Kunbi get home safely and offers to secure her car until the next morning. As a show of gratitude, she makes him an offer which he finds insulting and he reacts in a way that sets both of them on the path of enimity.
Picture Perfect starts out on a rough note.
Ninolowo’s Jobe opens the film as his character is introduced via his interactions with his bus park colleague. It isn’t immediately clear why this scene exists as everything that is achieved here- in terms of introduction and character exposition,- is simply rehashed in later, more effective scenes. The initial meeting between Kunbi and Jobe is drawn out needlessly and it is hard to forgive the producers for letting such an uninteresting scene go on for that long.
The action then jumps to Kunbi and explores the playful but durable bond she shares with Kiksy. It is here that the plot takes off. Because both Kunbi and Kiksy are single Nigerian women, their immediate concerns apart from domestic and professional are finding suitable men to settle down with, or shag as the case may be.
Kunbi has her heart broken, and the series of curveballs thrown up by fate bring her back to reckon with Jobe, accumulating in a twist which she is neither prepared nor fitted to handle on her own.
As the film goes on, Picture Perfect builds it confidence, slowly although it must be said this takes about 30 minutes of precious reel time. But when it eventually hits off, it does so solidly and moves along confidently and unhurriedly to the final act that houses the film’s finest moments.
In the last thirty minutes of Picture Perfect, Aiyeola’s Kiksy who has nothing to do for most of the film’s running time, gets a moment to prove she has actual acting skills. She does so. The writing helps too. Ninolowo also gets his chance to show his dramatic chops. He does so, admirably too.
Even though Picture Perfect stars two actresses considerably more famous than him, the entire film is really Ninolowo’s to carry on his untested shoulder. And he rises to the challenge, giving a generous performance that is sure to position him for many more leading man roles. He plays tough, street, gentle, vulnerable and he is totally in sync with all of these emotions. And despite his distracting makeup.
Mary Remmy Njoku isn’t really challenged, except maybe for the language part where her Yoruba showed some weaknesses. The screenplay is dialogue heavy and the director’s only breather is to track flat shots of the Lagos skyline. Even with the fault lines in the plot and continuity blips, Picture Perfect rallies with the realistic tone of the screenplay and with conscious attempts to adopt a lazy fairytale approach to the story telling.
All is well that ends well and for the characters, as well as the audience, Picture Perfect becomes that film that is saved by the bell, just in time. In this case, the final third act, and a star making performance from its male lead, Bolanle Ninalolwo.