A fabulous film will never fail to resonate with an appreciative audience. Oxford Gardens, another film from Obi Emelonye (The Mirror Boy, Onye Ozi) is indeed his best movie so far.
Julius “The Caesar” Okosisi (Ngoli Okafor), a boxer with a chequered life, meets Munachi (Ngozi Igwebike) in Oxford Gardens, UK, and they eventually become friends. Her disclosure of her impending death and her bucket list compels Julius to reassess his own life.
The casting is excellent; the actors do not let themselves and the audience down. There are fascinating twists and turns in the film, culminating in an unpredictable story. When the doctor mentions the oncology drugs to Munachi’s mum, one thought the drugs would have been waved at the viewer as a magic wand, but the story takes another turn altogether. The accident scene is realistically handled, a sharp contrast with the scene of the plane crash in Emelonye’s Last Flight to Abuja, kudos.
For a moment, one thought that Oxford Gardens had become some sort of documentary, showing the viewer how Julius works hard and coasts to victory in his comeback bid, but again a riveting twist is introduced. Thus, Emelonye saves the film from the fate suffered by Died Wretched, Buried in a N3.2million Casket, a NEK Video Links Production of the late 1990s, where the film ceased to be drama at some point, becoming a documentary on funeral proceedings.
The noticeable flaw in this film is that Julius does not express any pleasant surprise when his daughter, whom he had been barred from meeting, calls him, running to embrace him.
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When the trailer first appeared on TV and the internet, one thought that the producers had aped Southpaw (Jake Gynehall), but Oxford Gardens is like the vegetable that produces the water with which it is blanched. The film’s story is original, thanks to Emile Garuba, his co-story writers and Obi Emelonye, the screenwriter. This is also a strong signal that film-makers need to source their stories/screenplays from credible writers; directors must not insist on writing their own screenplays or even conceiving stories if it is not their forte because there are professional screenwriters who are capable of doing admirable work.
Oxford Gardens shows that Emelonye is now set to take his place among distinguished film-makers.