This is yet another film on the Benin (Bini) kingdom, coming after The Child (Izu Ojukwu, 2010), Invasion 1897: The Deposing of Oba Ovarhehem (Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen, 2014) and The Antique (Darasen Richards and Adetokunbo Odubawo (DJ Tee), 2014. There are others, including Adesuwa – another Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen film – which yours truly is yet to see.
Iyore is the story of Osarugue (Rita Dominic), who is married to Ovie (Yemi Blaq), but whose heart is in a childhood friend, Eweka/Azuwa, (Joseph Benjamin); setting the stage for untold conflict and catastrophe.
There is full display of rich customs and traditions of the Bini people. The costumes are striking; the dialogue is replete with countless proverbs, reminiscent of the era portrayed in the film and Bini actors are cast to perform the songs.
The reincarnation subplot is better developed in Iyore than in The Return, a Kingsley Ogoro production, which is at least a decade old; starring Uche Macaulay, Gloria Young and several other star actors. Although it is a controversial concept, some cultures and religions cannot dispense with reincarnation. There are slight variations on how it is propagated in various cultures and religions and Iyore handles it satisfactorily.
On the contrary, the main plot is the theme of hundreds of Nollywood films – a boy is in love with a girl, one from a wealthy background and the other from a wretched lowly one; of course, the affluent parents are opposed to the union, resulting in a lot of drama, at times excessive drama.
Movie fans are constantly in search of revitalizing stories and this is where Iyore fails. Granted that this movie turns out to be unpredictable, a more exciting love story could have been told by Frank Rajah Arase than the story of a couple, who are barred from getting married because one of them comes from a nondescript background.
The film’s subtitle is poorly done and should be revisited. There are countless errors in it. When Osarugue asks Ovie why he did not deem it fit to tell her he was travelling, the subtitle reads, dim instead. The lady diviner says, Strange as it may seem, the gods makes … (sic) and Rita Dominic is seen with her. When actors fail to voice their observations on set, the mistakes mar the production and quest their credibility too even when they are not the ones who directly commit the blunder! Someone also mentions ‘the crowned prince’ rather than ‘the crown prince’.
How come 2005 cars are used in a film that depicts 19 years ago? Whereas Ovie’s car could pass for a vehicle common two decades ago, the same cannot be said of the cars used by the royals.
When the prince’s cousin takes Joke Adekoya into the room, he mentions being the rightful prince, who was denied of his rights because of his father’s early demise. At the end of the film, Eweka is said to have returned to his rightful position right in the presence of his cousin. The audience is not told that the prince’s cousin lied and so why is that anomaly not resolved?
In her review of Blood and Oil, a BBC thriller that stars David Oyelowo, Sam Dede, Johdi May and Naomi Harris; in NEXT on Sunday (4th April, 2010), Chimamanda Adichie stressed that ‘It is lazy at best and patronizing at worst to use characters who mostly speak a kind of generic Africanized English; they become caricatures. Details matter because they lend authenticity and, for a knowledgeable viewer, can make the entire film believable or not’.
As a corollary, the actors in the film could not pronounce Bini names correctly. What would it have cost the producers to hire a dialogue/speech coach to work with the cast? If they hired one, then the person did not do a thorough job.