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Movie Review: ‘Òlòtūrè’ The Grittiness of Sex Work & Trafficking

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Its a windy Friday night and I’m snuggled in bed with a cold cup of Ice Tea, Pringles -Texas BBQ because that’s the best flavour – and my two best friends. I open Netflix, “Kika search for it, why are you wasting time?” one of them rushed. “It’s a new release it’ll definitely be on the homepage, relax” I replied trying to calm them. The colourful poster pops up and I click play. This is my movie review for Kenneth Gyang’s Òlòtūré.

The movie follows the journey of an undercover reporter who is investigating sex work & trafficking in Lagos. She’s living with a group of other sex workers who work for a particular madam. In a quest to tell a story she’s begun living, she gets thrown too deep in the mix, and things spiral out of control quickly. The cast is made up of some of the finest talents in Nigeria, including; Sharon Ooja as Ehi, Omowunmi Dada as Linda, Blossom Chukwujekwu as Emeka, Omoni Oboli as Alero, Ikechukwu Onunaku as Chuks, Kemi Lala Akindoju as Blessing, Wofai Fada as Vanessa and so many more talented actors.

One word. Amazing. This movie was simply fantastic. In terms of performance by the actors, it was impeccable. From the ensemble cast listed above, you can already tell it’s going to be a fine blend of talent feeding off talent. It was really interesting to watch Sharon Ooja play an entirely different kind of character than what we’re all used to. It was obvious she really pushed herself to embody this character and honestly, she did an amazing job. Omowunmi Dada is one actor I absolutely adore watching because she’s very versatile in portraying characters. Same thing with Omoni Oboli, another versatile actor that is able to take on different shapes and shades of characters. I wish I could keep gushing about the performances, but my editor would cut it out anyway, but I’m sure you now have an idea of how good the acting was.

I believe sex work and trafficking in Nigeria is a topic that cannot be talked about enough and there are very few films in Nollywood that really address it. The story is an important one that sheds light on the cruel industry that’s sex trafficking. I loved how raw the story was, little censoring. I believe there’s no honest way to portray how the industry is without making it as explicit as possible. With that being said, I do feel the story could’ve started a bit earlier or later, let me explain. In my opinion, I think starting the story with HOW Ehi became an undercover sex worker would have been really enlightening and would have given us a bit more backstory. How exactly does one just become a sex worker? Or if the story began with Ehi’s quest to travel to Europe to further her story. I just feel the climax came in a bit too late. The heat and suspense of the film came in at the last thirty minutes of the film. Hardly satisfying.

Another thing that stood in the film was its colour. Each scene is full of so much colour that just catches your attention immediately. The art design was outstanding. The sets were designed as natural as possible, which gave the characters and scenes a very authentic, unscripted feel. The director, Kenneth Gyang, did a fantastic job of bringing a mere script to life. 

Òlòtūré is a worthy watch. I couldn’t help but think about the thousands of untold stories of faceless and voiceless women out there. This movie is an eye opener to the many horrifying things happening to women in Nigeria. If you’re thinking of how to spend your Saturday night, this should definitely be on the top of your list.

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