Reviewer: Folake Olagunju I
The saying that there is no Love like a mother’s love really holds true. This is what was depicted in the movie “Apaye”. Inspired by true events, the biopic movie is a story of a young woman abandoned by her husband and left to take care of six children by herself. In her quest to succeed, she passed through untold hardship, struggling and toiling to ensure that her children enjoyed a life that she never had.
Apaye tells the story of Elder Irene Yepayeye Uriah-Dieah from Bayelsa State, a relative of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, who passed on in 2013. After her demise, her family approached producer Emem Isong’s Royal Arts Academy to record their mother’s inspiring life story on film. The result is a beautiful, moving adaptation that draws fresh attention to the remarkable life of its heroine.
In the creeks of what is now Bayelsa State, a middle-aged man, played by Kanayo O. Kanayo, sets his eyes on his wife’s cousin, an impressionable young girl, played by Belinda Effah, and does all he can to seduce her.
Eventually, she falls for him and decides to marry him even after her father disapproved of the union. After a few years of marital bliss, punctuated by the civil war, Apaye realises that her husband is an uncaring man and a hard hearted womanizer. After putting up with so much from him, she makes a decision to leave and start a new life with her children.
Life proves very difficult for Apaye, who has no formal education, but she does not let that deter her. She does all she could to ensure that all her children are fed and sent to school. Armed with resolve, her relentless search for a job pays off, as she gets a job as a caterer in a secondary school. But, just as life turns out to be unfair sometimes, the tides changes and she loses the job and has to go back to living in abject penury.
This doesn’t bring her down. Rather, it reinforces her determination to succeed and take care of her children at all costs. She finally decides to travel to meet her elder sister, where she begins to tread on the path of success.
The opening scenes of the movie were very nice and attention-catching as they showed how an older man was able to win the love of young Apaye. He helped her carry heavy baskets from the farm, walked with her and took her on boat rides. These scenes were as refreshing as they were touching to watch.
The commanding performance of Clarion Chukwura made the movie more interesting, as she took on different roles at different times. There were laughs, tears, hysteria, fainting spells, prayer sessions and more tears; but she plumbs the depths of each emotion, giving life to each of the characters.
The vitality and vibrancy of Kanayo O. Kanayo also brings a refreshing angle to the movie. Midway into the film, there is a particular scene where Chukwura and Kanayo are arguing and he attempts persuading her to come back home. They put their all into this scene and showed that they are truly masters at their craft.
The music is appealing and shows that a lot of money was spent on production, editing and design, as they were top notch.
As interesting as the biopic was, it cannot be said to be without flaws. Firstly, it can be seen that the movie is condensed to fit the storyline; it packed the entire events of a person’s life into just two hours. So, some scenes could not but just be rushed and disjointed. For instance, Jacky, one of Apaye’s children, got pregnant and that was the last we heard of the major character that was responsible for her siblings. We were not told what happened to her and the pregnancy.
Directed by Desmond Elliot, Apaye is a conventional narrative and the director did not attempt any inspiring camera angles or cinema tricks. He told the story faithfully and in the normal conventional way, nothing out of the ordinary.
In all, the movie is an okay one. With all its romantic, humorous and dramatic moments, it is worth checking out.
Screenplay was by Uduak Oguamanam, Kehinde Joseph and Vivian Chiji. According to survey reports, Apaye is the most expensive and highest budget film in Nollywood so far. As gathered, the star Akwa-Ibom born filmmaker, Ms Isong, founder of Royal Arts Academy, was commissioned with the sum of N55million to produce the movie.
Clarion Chukwura was reportedly paid N10million for her role, which gave her the opportunity to become the highest paid actress in Nollywood in a particular epoch.
According the producers, the movie, which already has 5 nominations at the 2014 Africa Movie Awards Academy (AMAA), would be further screened and sold, while its proceeds will go to charity.