A TWO WAY STREET

The fundament of Kenneth Gyang’s film is that humans, everywhere, yearn for requited love

Review By AMARA IWUALA

Almost every Nigerian film that tells the story of migrants is about crime – fraud, sham marriage, drugs, etc.  Excitingly, The Lost Café by Kenneth Gyang’s, like Destiny Ekaragha’s Gone Too Far (2014), is a sharp departure from that inclination.

The film surveys the challenges with which migrants grapple in their new environment, not forgetting that, more often than not, there are troubles back home that may not allow them concentrate and face their new lives squarely.

Ose (Tunde Aladese) travels to Norway to pursue a higher degree and has to cope with an aloof roommate with racist tendencies.  Ose gets alarming reports that her boyfriend in Calabar, Nigeria, Akeem (Omatta Udalor) is philandering. Discovering an unlikely friendship in an elderly attendant in a café, Ose realizes that heartbreak knows neither sex nor race.

Kenneth Gyang’s sophomore feature film is simply sublime and the idea of magical realism is intriguing.  The screenplay is replete with subtext and stimulating dialogue. Well-written dialogue is usually striking, particularly when it stems from a film’s subject matter.  Kudos to the screenwriter – Ifesinachi Okoli-Okpagu – for a compelling screenplay.

 

Ose shows a lot of brilliance in class, effortlessly discussing film and film-makers – High Moon (Fred Zinnemann, 1952), A Streetcar Called Desire (Elia Khazan, 1951), Sitting in the Rain (Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly; 1952), Umberto D (Vittorio De Sica, 1952), Ousmane Sembene and so on.   

 

Aladese, who also featured in Confusion Na Wa, Gyang’s debut feature film, is a dependable artiste.  Thorkell August Ottarson (Hod) and Anders Lidin Hansen (Eirik) are remarkable.  It is enthralling to see Anne Njemanze in this new role and the rest of the cast do not flounder.

 

The beautiful photography makes the film, mainly the Norwegian bit, a visual delight.  Sound and lighting are well-done too. Ose’s blouses in Norway are good representations of her culture and background.  

 

A fundamental ideology, which is advanced in The Lost Café, is that in spite of sex, race or creed, when human beings show love, they yearn to be loved and respected in return.  However, when they are taken for granted, they hurt. Some overcome their hurts while others hardly ever recover.

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