LFF 2020: Eyimofe (This Is My Desire) – Review

Release Date – TBC, Cert – N/A, Run-time – 1 hour 54 minutes, Directors – Arie Esiri, Chuko Esiri

Two Nigerians (Jude Akuwudike, Temi Ami-Williams), living separate struggling lives, dream of a better life outside of the country.

The subtitle of Eyimofe – the feature directorial debut of brothers Arie and Chuko Esiri – This Is My Desire very much shows the personal nature of the two separate narratives that make the film up. Central figures Mofe (Jude Akuwudike) and Rosa (Temi Ami-Williams) both dream of better lives outside of the Nigerian capital, Lagos, in fact outside of the country itself. Each figure dreams of leaving their lives of poverty and living in squalid conditions for something less stressful and definitely worry-free, a life infinitely more happy and easier. The first half of the film – entitled ‘Spain’ – follows Mofe, primarily a factory electrician with a number of other jobs on the side, trying his best to support his family. However, tragedy strikes and Mofe finds himself left alone in a state of grief and bereavement. His hopes of leaving and making a better life for himself are crushed, his desire remaining a hopeless dream.

Meanwhile in the second half of the film we follow hairdresser-by-day bartender-by-night Rosa (Temi Ami-Williams) as she dreams of escaping to chapter title ‘Italy’ with her pregnant younger sister, Grace (Cynthia Ebijie). Unfortunately Rosa is struggling to pay for herself, with her sister’s medical bills and rent taking priority, let alone a visa. When she meets American Peter (Jacob Alexander) things seem as if they’re about to turn around, although soon he suspects that his only benefit to her may be financial. It simply adds to more feeling that the dreams of these characters are never going to come true, it’s the main link between them in the two, somewhat lengthy, chapters that make up the film.

The tone is kept naturalistic throughout to add to the realism and effect. While this means that the emotion of the piece feels raw and honest it also means that a number of the scenes feel very quiet. The lack of score intensifies this and definitely keeps things grounded, and allows the use of music to have a stronger effect when it infrequently plays in the background of a select number of scenes. When it comes to such quieter scenes they seem to lack enough detail to properly engage with them, and when these happen to be some of the longer scenes your connection with the film dwindles. This is particularly the case in the transition between characters and chapters, the tragedies and struggles are different and initially they almost feel like two separate short films (although having shared themes and elements). At just under two hours the film does feel a bit too long, with more time spent with Rosa; who, despite having more detail to her story, doesn’t quite seem to have the emotional depth and sudden tragedy of Mofe.

Akuwudike’s intense response to his family bereavement is hard to top – his performance throughout his character’s 45 minute segment is deeply sombre and sets the tone for the rest of the film in an instant. Even some of the lighter moments, if they can be called that, within this naturalistic drama seem to have a feeling of sadness and emotion around them. Certainly not in a cynical way, luckily stopping the film from becoming excessively depressing. The film never looks down on the characters or treats them harshly, it simply captures them (not quite in a documentary style) and the multiple more-than-unfortunate experiences that they live through. At times it might feel that you’re living through them too, partly down to the emotion of the film, partly because of the lengthy impact that they have on the film too.

While it has an emotional effect thanks to the performances the biggest impact in Eyimofe is perhaps too early on, affecting the rest of the quiet, and sometimes too lengthy, nature of the film.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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