That is the spirit of Armstrong, as AMARA IWUALA notes in this review:
In the mid to late 1990s, Samuel Ajibola, who features as Spiff in The Johnsons, the Nollywood family series, was an exceptional child actor in such films as Without Love, Shame and Conspiracy. A long absence from the movie scene, in order to complete his education, has not diminished his acting skills.
In Armstrong, Ajibola plays the role of David, a school boy troubled by his mum’s predicament in a hospital that insists on collecting a huge deposit before treating a patient. Dave enters an arm-wrestling competition, hoping to win the prize with which he will offset the hospital bill.
Omoruyi Irabor’s film highlights the plight of indigent people in Nigeria who die from common ailments, owing to lack of funds. This raises concerns about the inability of the government to make provisions for the medical care of impoverished persons when such people suffer from ordinary and inexpensive diseases.
Casting is spot-on. The doctor (Baj Adebule) delivers his role effortlessly. The director allows David to have information that is beyond his knowledge. David leaves the hospital before his mum is transferred to the dilapidated ward. How come he has a picture of his mum, sitting in that ward as he wrestles with his opponent?
Irabor’s explanation at the premiere that the project is a feature film from which he decided to make a short film negates logic because a short film is a complete picture, which should stand on its own rather than exist as an excerpt from a full-length film. It would have been understandable if the director had screened a preview and decided to skip parts of the story that may give away the feature film, but for a short film, it must be a total package.
In other words, it is the duty of a film-maker who ends up with a six-hour footage at the end of a shoot to choose the shots and scenes, which gives plausibility to, say, his two-hour film. Therefore, the logic and integrity of Armstrong, as a short film, cannot be weighed down by the story the director wishes to tell as a feature film.
Assuming the short film is in competition at a film festival, Irabor will not engage in a question and answer session with the jury tasked with adjudicating the film. Additionally, Armstrong has the potential of travelling to different film festivals all over the world. So, there should be a subtitle for the parts where the dialogue is in Pidgin English.
The film’s pacing is a bit slow, a few details could have been reduced or cut off entirely without the losing the essence of the story.
Armstrong reinforces the conviction that great storytelling can result from observing and dramatizing simple everyday occurrences. The flick reminds people that things may not always work out as envisaged, in spite of painstaking preparation. Be that as it may, it is always comforting to give the best shot to every opportunity.
We are on the lookout for the feature film.