Movie Review: Kunle Afolayan’s “Roti” Got It Wrong On So Many Levels

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FYI: I am not a reviewer. I am just an angry human whose time and money was wasted.

Choosing to see Kunle Afolayan’s Roti is the worst decision I have made this year and this is coming from someone that has made a lot of really bad decisions this year alone.

It’s over 1 hour of my life and one ‘taasan’ naira (in this buhari economy *weeps*) wasted. Kate henshaw (Diane) and Toyin Oshinaike (Zebra crossing)’s amazing performances were not enough to stop this movie from being a money-guzzling disaster.

When the movie ended at the cinema, the sighs and hisses told all the story: we had hoped for too much from Afolayan and he’d treated our fuckups.

That nowhere on the internet has this been said is testimony to the fact that either ass-licking has been raised to new heights or movie reviewers have unbelievably low expectations.

The movie centres around a couple, Kabir (Kunle Afolayan) and Diane (Kate Henshaw) who lost their only child after years of waiting. Roti, short for Rotimi, means ‘stay with me’ in Yoruba. They’d believed that he had chosen to stay and not die like the rest. But the mother was still worried and months later, her fears became reality as Roti died in surgery.

The subject of the movie is reincarnation. Four years after Roti died, Diane saw a boy that looked just like him on the road. She informed her husband, who sceptical at first, followed her to the road and confirmed that the boy indeed looked like Roti but refused to believe it was Roti.

Diane began to visit the boy and his mother and showered them with gifts. Until the boy’s father, Zebra crossing (Toyin oshinaike) returned from his trip and warned her never to come again.

She lost it and attempted to flee the country with the boy. Her husband went after her, reported to the authorities and she was stopped and arrested.

Kunle afolayan may have been right to go with the narrative technique for his movie, but he was not right to have made himself the narrator. The voice stood out in a not-good way. The acting too, somebody else could have played that role better.

Now, the movie did not only fail in its attempt to be ‘deep’, it was riddled with plot holes. That is not to say there were no occasional flashes of brilliance. Kate henshaw brought her ‘A’ game, she just brought it to the wrong match. Her reaction was top notch. It just wasn’t enough to save the movie. Toyin oshinaike too as zebra crossing became that character completely. His words and actions brought out the essence of that character and perhaps gave us our first and only laugh in that movie.

Reincarnation was not a structure strong enough to hold the movie. The decision to focus on the pain and struggle of the parents after Roti’s death did not work either. It was a long stretch of waiting for something to happen.

And the story? How did the doctor go from “your son is very, very sick” to “don’t worry, it’s not something serious”? The mother-in law, choosing to tell diane that her son would return was supposed to serve as foundation for the scenes where Diane met the parish priest, where Diane remembered her mother-in law’s words and where Kabir confronted his mother to tell her to change Diane’s mind. Those scenes could have been cut out without affecting the movie.

For starters, the encounter with the priest was more disturbing than important. The priest sounded like he was trying to remember his lines. Kate Henshaw had absolutely no reason to have visited the priest of a parish she didn’t attend. In reality, she would have visited her mother-in law instead to tell her to elaborate on what she said about reincarnation rather than visit the priest.

And the part where after Kabir discovered that Diane had escaped, he went straight to the house of Juwon’s (reincarnated Roti) parents, that was just silly. How can you find out that your wife has kidnapped the son of a woman and still go to that woman’s house without fearing for your life? Even sillier is the way the woman entered the car of a man whose wife had just kidnapped her child without calling people to beat him up or asking if he wanted to kidnap her too.

This movie just got it wrong on so many levels. Maybe the topic of reincarnation will be fully treated by a movie one day but that day is not today and the movie that will do that is not Roti.

I forgive Kunle afolayan for wasting my 1k (*sobs*), but I won’t forgive him for wasting 1 hour of my life.

Written By:

JAMES OGUNJIMI

James Ogunjimi is a reader and writer. His writings have appeared in Kalahari Review, Praxis Magazine, Sahara Reporters, Premium Times, Rise Networks, The Nation Newspaper, Brittle Paper, etc. His debut novel, “A Wall Is Just A Wall” will be released September 2017 by Bahati Books, UK.

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