Banjo Ogunleye (Femi Jacobs) seeks to re-orientate a group of prostitutes by taking recordings of his wife Iquo Akpan’s (Kate Henshaws) escapades to the prostitutes, promising to fund those with the best 10 proposals to the tune of N5 million each.
A case is made for the better treatment of nannies and the actors that are cast to play Iquo’s relatives have the cross River/Akwa Ibom accent; good casting.
Coming shortly after Dagogo Diminas’s Stigma another film on HIV/AIDS, Iquo’s Journal is a run-off-the-mill contemporary story on the devastating effects of HIV/AIDS on victims of the disease and the society.
There have been advancements in medical science, leading to the discovery of Anti-Retroviral Drugs (ARVs), through which suffers can manage the ailment and live ‘normal’ lives. Besides, Iquo is married into a wealthy and sophisticated background where funds and knowledge are not the problem. Therefore, Iquo’s death raises a big question mark on the story told by Blessing Egbe.
Secondly, it is difficult to grasp how the journal that Iquo keeps on her activities translates to the film seen by the prostitutes. If the events are re-enacted by Banjo, a film-maker, that information is not conveyed to the viewer. Then, Iquo could not have been the one that acted in the re-enactment.
The film is fraught with errors that stem from inadequate research and the absence of thoroughness. If Iquo’s father had deteriorated by the time she left the village as she claims, he could not have lived ten more years! Deterioration means the prostate cancer had advanced and even with the best medical care, a sufferer faces imminent death let alone someone with little or no medical care.
Iquo also exhibits more sophistication than the quality and level of education she attains can afford plus the fact that her profession does not necessarily lead to any advancement in learning. She sounds too preppy for words.
One wonders what Iquo’s true level of education is. While narrating her story to the pastor, Iquo says she left her village for Lagos at 18 after primary and secondary education, owing to her parents’ inability to send her to the university. When her husband challenges her not to act like the illiterate, she reminds him that she is just street-wise; having terminated her education at primary 4. Both scenarios are painted in the same film. The vital question to ask is, does it mean the cast of the movie did not notice the contradictions or did they not read the script?
The make-up and transformation for a sick Iquo are not noticeable save for the black patches around her eyes and the rashes on her skin, which are not enough for someone with full-blown AIDS. The doctor says Iquo has full-blown AIDS, but she looks very healthy. If indeed she has full-blown AIDS, she could not have been comfortably seated listening to the doctor’s Virology lecture.
Banjo’s mum naivety is appalling coupled with poor acting skills. The woman could not add 1 to 1. The pastor also over-acts. Iquo’s mum also exhibits poor acting skills. The prostitutes constitute a lot of nuisance. The story could have been told without them because they actually add nothing useful to the story.
The signs of HIV should have been shown rather than narrated. There are also grammatical errors in the dialogue. Iquo talks about the business of sex trading twice; sex trade is the correct expression. She also says, ‘1 incidence’ rather than ‘1 incident’.
Blessing Egbe could be part of a screenwriting team, but must not be a screenplay’s sole writer because in this art, too many cooks do not spoil the broth. Just like in Two Brides and a Baby, she takes on too many roles in one project; Nollywood practitioners ought to realize that sticking to their forte will advance professionalism in the industry.
People are expected to improve as they grow in their careers. Again, having better ideas is different from proper execution of such ideas. Rivals, a joint production by Blessing Egbe and Omoni Omoni Oboli directed by Aquila Njamah close to a decade ago is better than 2 Brides and a Baby and the latter is a more thoroughly executed project than Iquo’s Journal.
In her next production, Egbe should go beyond having a narrative with potential and tell a riveting tale; she should start by reducing the number of tasks she performs on the set of a single movie. If there will ever be anything like the project ACT Nollywood again, a proper screenwriting competition with credible judges from the movie world should be organized and the best screenplays selected.