#Nollywood Movie Review of ‘A Place in the Stars’

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Steve Gukas came into prominence when he directed Keeping Faith(RMD, Genevieve Nnaji, Bimbo Akintola, Funlola Aofiyebi), an Ego Boyo Production a little over a decade ago.  No one really heard anything again from him up until the build-up to the 2011 General Elections, where he was, I presume, the Music Director of Stella Oduah’s Neighbour-to-Neighbour Campaign for President Goodluck Jonathan.  Gukas will later grant an interview, in which he admits that A Place in the Stars is his sophomore project as a director though he produced a film about Namibia a few years ago.

Keeping Faith, written by the cerebral Femi Kayode, remains one of the finest films to be made in Nigeria and so you can imagine how much we yearned for other films from the Keeping Faith team.  Femi Kayode, who answered our call in 2010 or so by writing Mahmood Alli-Balogun’s Tango with Me, is the closest we have come to any member of that team.

Therefore, it was with bated breath and fever pitch curiosity that we awaited the release of A Place in the Stars, which screened in the cinemas shortly before the Yuletide.

Kim (Gideon Okeke) is a young lawyer, who is torn between holding on to the values his father (Femi Branch/Dejumo Lewis) inculcated in him and in his late elder brother, James, and engaging in sharp practices to become wealthy.  The temptation to yield is strong with his life under threat.  The drama, triumph, disappointment and grief that follow culminate in the 108-minute film – A Place in the Stars.

It is sensible to start talking to one’s children from infancy.  Someone calls it ‘subliminal brainwashing’, which, honestly, works.  When people are faced with tough choices, there are indelible events, lessons and incidents from the past, which they remember and analyze in taking decisions.  Whether or not an individual will recall such instructions depends on how the advice was given.

The orchestra is so solemn that one is forced into sober reflections.  The technical quality of the film is topnotch whilst many of the actors give sublime performances.There is an unmistakable semblance between Femi Branch and Dejumo Lewis, who act the younger and older Pam Dakim respectively.  The dance in the moonlight is reminiscent of village life.  The scenes with the doctor are well enacted.

Why did the choir interchange the original words of Horatius Bonar’s hymn, Fading Away like the Stars of the Morning?  Instead of singing:

Fading away like the stars of the morning …

Thus would we pass from the earth and its toiling

Only remember’d by what we have done.

 

they sang:

 

Fading away like the sun in the morning …

Thus would we pass from the world and its toiling

Only remember’d for what we have done.

 

Kim’s car is hit several times, but the lights are still intact though there are sounds, indicating that the rear lights are broken!

Segun Arinze’s accent is inconsistent in his portrayal of Okonkwo. At times, his command of the English Language makes one believe he is a well-educated man. At other times, he speaks as if he is barely literate. Maybe, that is one of the consequences of recording a film for more than five years; continuity becomes the casualty.What is the significance of Tari’s (Matilda Obaseki’s) role in this film?

Why didn’t the police do a silent operation at the rescue scene since they were unsure exactly where the criminals are hiding or how much arms and ammunition they had at their disposal?

The detective/policeman swears at a suspect, ‘Piece of “shit” … Let me see how you’ll get out.’  Is an accused person not presumed innocent until proven otherwise by a court of competent jurisdiction?

Why did the police leave Kim behind after their rescue mission at the uncompleted building?  What if there are other criminals there, who end up harming him?  Certainly, the screenplay by Ita Hozaife and J. K. Amalou could have been better paced because the pacing in this film is slow.

Kim’s guilt emanates from the fact that he had fallen victim and is not genuine penitence.  In the end, it is not good to learn the hard way.

A Place in the Stars is not exceptional, coming from the director of Keeping Faith.

Amarachukwu Iwuala

Amarachukwu Iwuala

A writer … in pursuit of excellence

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