Now Award seasons are over in Nigeria and Ghana, it was worth the wait to see how some highly anticipated movies faired in the awards before actually seeing them and Shirley Frimpong-Manso’s REBECCA is one of the few.
REBECCA tells the story of a egotistic city man Clifford (Joseph Benjamin) who keeps to this mother’s death wishes and travels home to marry a timid looking village girl Rebecca (Yvonne Okoro) to whom he is betrothed, on their way home they get lost in the middle of nowhere and he gets to realise that this girl he has married just a few hours earlier is anything but ordinary. The synopsis could be deceiving and make you believe this one is a usual cliché but the well put together trailer will pique your interest and make you want to see it.
Shirley Frimpong who co-produced and Directed this movie with Ken Attoh and also wrote the screenplay can only be described as an unconventional risk taker, who just hears voices in her head and begins to pen over a hundred pages of screenplay based on fresh dialogue between two casts and one scene with different cuts, for a film market like ours in this part of the world it is a heavy risk that only she and maybe Leila Djansi can pull.
Seeing the trailer of this movie, you could be drawn to believe that the screenplay and the performances of both casts should be award winning but when you see this picture you will get to understand why not. The dialogue was fresh and worth listening to from Clifford’s perspective but for a supposed village girl who we get to learn was trained to read and write by a ‘village teacher’ her use of words were rather too heavy and probably will give Joke Sylvia’s choice of words a run for its money, how about use simpler terms like ‘happy’ in lieu of ‘excited’ and ‘tall grasses’ instead of ‘shrubs’, this would have brought a proper imbalance in the dialogue of the cast which was what was expected but this was not offered even in the scene where Clifford asks ‘ how did you learn to speak so well?’ this simply did not cover up for this major shortcoming, reason why the script which had great potential did not get any nods at the major awards this year.
For the performances, at some point you can notice that the Director was trying ceaselessly to extract the characters from the cast rather than the cast doing it for themselves, you could feel Rebecca look sometimes as though her attention was divided, it felt like she did not do a proper research on the character in order not to simply explore Rebecca’s complexities but to also show that proper ‘village side’ that would have given her an easy award nod, Yvonne Okoro probably felt she could do it and just went ahead being that the character seemed easy to interpret. Joseph Benjamin did impress at some points but overall it was the usual Benjamin Joseph the one we have seen over and again.
As stated earlier, the efforts of the Director were visible in this picture, no wonder the AMVCA nomination, the sound and video editing was very properly done and would have been a tough one been that this was a one long scene movie that has great potential to be tedious but it managed not to be so much of a bore with the dialogue. The choice of music scores was also very brilliant and added taste to every scene a score was required. However, the scene where a supposed wild animal was chasing them was in all candour a joke, an unapologetic joke that could have been better thought out and executed. Highlights were the ‘sex in the rain scene’ and the scene where we could hear Shirley through Rebecca when Clifford asks ‘ are you a virgin?’ and she retorts ‘are you?’ It felt painstaking to watch before the climax but the end, the very end of this movie saved the day, the happenings and the very last dialogue between Rebecca and Clifford was enough to pardon any of the flaws one could have put together viewing this the movie.