This movie is an adaptation of the Chimamanda Adichie novel of the same name. The story tells the story of different people and their lives during the Biafran war in Nigeria in the 60’s. The characters involved are Odenigbo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Olanna (Thandie Newton), a couple filled with so many trials in their relationships specifically Odenigbo’s mother’s(Onyeka Onwenu) disapproval of their relationship and her interference. There is Olana’s (fraternal) twin sister, Kainene (Anika Noni Rose) who runs their father’s businesses and starts a relationship with a British writer, Richard (Joseph Mawle). And then there is Ugwu, Odenigbo’s houseboy (John Boyega)
As a Nigerian, I was so proud of the fact that one of our own was having a book being turned into a movie but boy, this movie was not very good. See, I read the book. I also understand that the book is almost always better than the movie. But if you haven’t read the book then I am not sure this movie will make sense to you, add the extra layer of if you don’t understand the Nigerian culture and it would be confusing. I describe the movie as one big Fast Forward. It felt like everything in the book was fast forwarded.
The main plotline/focus should have been the war but save for one or two violent scenes, it wasn’t really touched on. The focus became the love story between Odenigbo and Olanna and even that was shoddily done. Thandie Newton’s accent was so distracting, she didn’t get it down pat. Anika Noni Rose had to have a similar accent (with a British lilt) and nailed it (also nailed her character). In the book, we get to see the story from Ugwu’s pov but Ugwu’s character in this movie was reduced to almost zombie-like if you ask me because he just came in and uttered lines every now and then, nothing integral. The movie was so watered down that even his major arc in the book wasn’t included in detail.
To say some good things about the movie, the visuals were pretty. It was similar to how the movie “Her” looked. The wardrobe was great. And not to sound weird because it was during war, it was nice (and sad at the same time) to see what Nigeria was at some point. So rich with culture and full of life so to speak. I liked how they interspersed real life videos of Gen. Ojukwu giving statements on the war – his accent was lovely! We did get some good performances from Anika Noni Rose and Onyeka Onwenu.
So, I’d say save yourself the money and wait to rent this movie. It’ll sting less.