Director Lancelot Imasuen returns with Lovebirds, a weird comedy about the foolishness of teenage angst set in the diaspora. Stella Damasus and Jim Iyke, two of the biggest stars to have come out of Nollywood in recent times crawl out of hibernation to take on supporting roles with Jim Iyke doubling as a producer.
Written by Isokho Edirin Stanley, Lovebirds places the unusual love story of Ivie and Odion, played by newcomers, SaRaii Captca and Felix Omozusi at its very wacky center. But it is also a family drama touching on themes of immigration, a person’s right to choose their life partner as well as intergenerational conflicts that arise between members of the same family.
Ivie and Odion, teenage children of first generation immigrants to the United States of America are convinced that their love is forever. The hostilities encountered from both parents, with origins in a shared history only acts to bind them together and they make several dubious decisions in a misguided bid to stay together. When the shoddy foundation of their romance becomes untenable and all but collapses, Ivie and Odion take on drastic measures, all in the name of love.
Lovebirds is shot in the Atlanta area and Imasuen for budgetary reasons, restricts his shoot for the most part to a single location, the big duplex that houses Ivie’s family. There are exterior shoots but they are largely negligible as the screenplay finds ways to constrain most of the set pieces within the building. This may work conveniently for the production but because of this the film never quite visually rises above home video material.
Ivie is driven to frustration by her overbearing mom played by Stella Damasus who has her own ideas of how her daughter’s life should play out. And who can blame her? A mother like that should come with a warning. Engage only when absolutely necessary.
As the foil to her daughter’s silly romance with Odion, a boy she considers inadequate, Stella Damasus brings the typical Nollywood mother’s bullish tendencies. She rides roughshod over everyone else, and has no qualms about arranging for her daughter, the spoilt billionaire heir, Damola (a game Jim Iyke.)
Living in the USA has not cured Ms Damasus of the overblown theatrics that characterize Nollywood actors and she screams and shouts her way through the film, at some point managing to alienate even the audience. The scenes she shares with Captca are particularly stressful as between Damasus’ extra-ness and Captca’s wide eyed helplessness, portions of the film sink to barely watchable levels. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Joseph Benjamin keeps it as nondescript as only he can quite manage.
It is a good thing that Lovebirds doesn’t take itself seriously and Imasuen doesn’t expect the same of his audience. The finished product may be low on thrills but it is what passes for a feel good film these days. Imasuen has done much better in his lengthy career, but he’s also done much worse.
This one sits somewhere in the middle.