Jocular, breathtaking and refreshing rightly describe The Meeting, produced by Rita Dominic and Mildred Okwo. Indeed, it is one of the best films ever produced in Nigeria and arguably Nollywood’s best romantic comedy.
Ejira is a corps member, who is in an abusive relationship with Jolomi. She hitches a lift at the airport, discussing with Makinde Esho on their way into Abuja town. Esho, a widower, receives his baptism of fire in a bid to meet the Minister of Lands, but Ejira succours him, becoming the companion he needs in a city, where he is lonely.
The audience is not spoon-fed. Tribalism, nepotism, favouritism, superstition, bribery and intimidation are subtly showcased in this movie written by Tunde Babalola, the writer of Guinness’ Critical Assignment. The Meeting is worlds apart from Maami and even the ambitious flick, Last Flight to Abuja, which were also written by Babalola.
It is lovely that the producers let Sunrise Daily coincide with the time the laundryman brought Esho’s clothes. That joke on the laundry, though it may be lost on a foreigner, is apt. The symbolism between the juice and sucking of account is great. Listening to the comparison of Lagos and Abuja is exciting.
Rita Dominic’s portrayal of Clara is probably her best role till date, though one is yet to see Shattered, the movie that gave her the best actress award (in a leading role) in AMMA, 2012. Her trademark dressing, hairstyle and mannerisms are funny. Her spoken Igbo (the Mbaise dialect) is enthralling.
Femi Jacobs is also believable as Makinde Esho, though he showed a great deal of culture shock. Yet, we were not told that he recently moved back to Nigeria since he apparently thinks that offering a bribe is more offensive that receiving same. He is obviously a prude. He asks Ejira whether the dancers at the club were dancing or having sex. He maintains that the lady could get pregnant, dancing the way she was dancing. Then, there is the toast to people, dancing like they are having a combined cardiac arrest.
Majority of the other cast, mostly experienced actors, are equally convincing in their roles.
In fact, the movie connects with the audience to the extent that those in the cinema hall, where yours truly saw the film, urge Esho to ‘drop’ something (give bribe) on his fourth day at the office. Someone in the audience even observes that Makinde is rigid as he argues with Ejira, when she suggests that he buys something for the receptionist.
The Meeting visits a number of social ills without haranguing. Why is Ejira dating a man who cannot pronounce her name well? He calls her Ejiro or Ejura! The curse sequence is very humorous, considering that Jolomi appears fearless and even looks like a pugilist. The subtitle was well done though it was missing in that scene, where Clara was praising ‘Rinwa (Bolarinwa – Nse Ikpe-Etim).
Actual places and occasions mentioned and shown in The Meeting are misrepresented. Ejira says she works in the FCT (Federal Capital Territory) office. Where is that? There is the FCT Ministry/the FCTA (Federal Capital Territory Administration). Ejira says she is an ‘alumnus’ of the University of Abuja – a Civil Engineering graduate. Why didn’t anyone tell her that a female graduate is an alumna since the screenwriters obviously made a mistake?
Secondly, if the University of Abuja now has a Faculty of Engineering, have they produced the first set of graduates? The producers could have easily verified the courses offered by that university.
Then, that one-man show during the graduation of Makinde’s daughter clearly negates proceedings during convocations. The deans and provosts of faculties and colleges respectively present their graduating students to the Vice Chancellor during convocations for induction as alumni of their alma mater while the registrar conducts proceedings.
Though Okwo’s directorial authority is not in doubt, she should have paid more attention to Ejiofor (Ejira). Ejira tells Jolomi, ‘You are not matured enough to handle me’. She also tells Makinde ‘I have not had a friend as matured and caring as you before’. The word is ‘mature’.
Having seen an excitingly different film like The Meeting, however mundane you think the title is, one is wondering when 30 Days, the other feature film by Okwo; which premiered in June, 2008; will hit the cinemas.