Maro’s (IvieOkujaiye’s) troubled childhood unduly exposes her to a wily world. She falls in love with Tega (Jude Orhorha), but his sudden death almost leaves her with no choice than to turn to prostitution, a profession introduced to her by Osas (Grace Ofre), an old friend. She meets Charles Obi (Femi Jacobs), a medical doctor; raising hopes of a better and decent future for Maro until the unexpected happens.
The story by Paul Alanza and Charles Uwagbai, whose screenplay is written by Dave Chukwuji and Doris Ariole is not only plausible, but so well told that one is reminded of the grinding poverty, in which many Nigerians live. It calls to mind, Sergeant Okoro and Maama, two acclaimed movies by Opa Williams of the Virgin Productions and Night of a Thousand Laughs fame.
Audiences will always identify with well-made films. The choice of locations and props could not have been more fitting in The Black Silhouette. It is lovely that the producers figure out that around 2003, Nokia 3310 was very common. The poor living conditions of Maro and her folks are shown with all the grime. Pictorial action is chosen over words wherever suitable. It is through the environment that viewers decipher that Maro, her family and their neighbours are poverty-stricken. The Black Silhouette is not one of those films, where people live in comfortable apartments and even drive cars and yet someone dies in the family because no one in the household can afford one thousand naira (N1,000.00) to buy anti-malarial drugs!
Infant mortality, which is common among an indigent population, is incorporated in this story about deprivation: very apt. Maro’s mum is said to have lost four children, a reason there is much difference between the ages of Maro and her brother, Victor (David Olamide).
Charles Uwagbai, the director, deserves commendation for paying attention to little details and being very creative in telling his story. An example: we hear the voices of Maro’s dad and mum as they quarrel very noisily while they are Off-Screen. This also tasks the imagination of the audience. The decision not to show the sex scene between Maro and James, the corps member, is ingenious. The scene where Maro strips in order to get Dr. Obi’s attention is simply seductive. Indeed, less is more.
The casting for the film is perfect. Maro reasonably looks like Mrs. Oti (Joke Silva). Osas steals the show with her witty expressions. Ivie is excellent; no wonder she won the fifth and final edition of the Amstel Malta Box Office reality TV show, AMBO. It is also good to see Jude Orhorha, Obi Madubuogwu (The Battle of Musanga) and ChigozieAtuanya after donkey years; though Orhorha was in Half of a Yellow Sun. Of course, Joke Silva and Ik Osakioduwa embody the emotions that are inherent in the story their characters tell and listen to respectively. David Olamide is a superb child actor.
The producers cast people who are at home in Pidgin English. It is absolutely exceptional to see a very interesting feature film, other than comedy, which is rendered entirely in Pidgin English. This also heightens plausibility because people residing in such poor neighbourhoods in Nigerian cities mainly speak Pidgin English.
The dialogue in The Black Silhouette is engaging. For example, when Maro confronts Tega over infecting her with gonorrhoea, he says, ‘Na for public toilet I get am.’ Maro retorts, ‘Prostitutes are now public toilets, abi?’ The security man tells Maro, ‘Abeg, no finish the credit’ when she borrow his phone to make a call.
Despite the fact that this film can hold its own anywhere in the world because it has universal appeal, there are a few inconsistencies in the movie. There is a line by Joke Silva’s character with a wrong choice of word. She says, ‘It was more of curiosity than likeness, initially. She used this to talk about liking someone. Should it have been ‘… than a liking, initially’?
In one of the scenes, where Maro’s parents are quarrelling, the sobbing child goes to meet her uncle and the viewers are shown that it is 1994. The girl (Maro) cannot be more than 15, meaning that she was born in 1979 or 1980. However, 21 years after, we meet Joke Silva, the new Maro, who does not look less than 45. There is no way Mrs. Oti (Silva) can pass for a thirty-five year-old. Why didn’t the producers just leave the date out?
Why didn’t the producers of The Black Silhouette invest money in publicizing such an intriguing movie? The poor publicity could affect its performance at the box office.
The film is not subtitled in the English language. The producers should consider subtitling it and entering it for film festivals and competitions around the globe for they have a good product, which is capable of winning coveted awards and prizes.