Animated chatter and hearty laughter is heard as we all find seats to fill in the theatre hall. It is a few minutes past 8pm and the film slated for 8pm is yet to start. Once we’re all settled in nicely, a few opening words from Lolá Shónẹyìn, the Aké director and pioneer, accompanied by a quip about the very Nigerian habit of running live commentary which elicits comments from the audience precede a brief talk from Pierre Cherruau about the movie.
The movie titled Ramata finally begins as the theatre lights are turned off. The opening scene unrolls itself to a welcome of expectant silence from authors and literary enthusiasts alike all eager to view the work of art before us.
Ramata is a French movie, subtitled in English, about the title character — a woman, with no discernable skill, married to an influential minister. She engages in an extramarital affair with a “nobody” of a young man, named Ngor, who is her abductor at first before being her rapist turned lover (didn’t see that coming, did you?). The film chronicles how Ramata’s decision leads to a chain of events that ultimately turn her life upside down. Seems pretty basic doesn’t it? However, we are unprepared for what unfolds as the movie employs a unique set of cinematographic techniques, humor, plot twists, flash back, flash forward, fading shots and stills to deliver a powerful rendition of an otherwise basic plot.
Ramata’s gradual build up leaves room for the occasional dose, phone fiddling, and side comment, but as it builds momentum, my interest is piqued as are those of the members of audience who have at this point yet to key into the film. Slowly but surely we begin to understand the gist of the movie and enjoy the ride until the point where Ramata meets Ngor whom she pays to take her home having mistaken him for a taxi driver since he is in a cab which he has just stolen from an actual taxi driver, the purpose of which is still unclear to me at this point. Ngor’s shifty behavior and “bad eye” alone should arouse suspicion in any human being but Ramata doesn’t show a sign of serious concern only making gentle protests until Ngor takes her off her route to a bar where he goes in and she follows him. It is at this point that every fiber of my Nigerian being refuses to accept what I am being served.
“How you go pay taxi make e take you go one place e come take you go another place you come dey follow am?” Someone protests from behind me.
Ramata is packed full with all the things that make any good film work. It has suspense, romance, comedy, corruption and tragedy with relatable scenes that spark up hushed conversations and loud laughter throughout the theatre hall. Scenes such as the one with the conversation between Ngor and a police officer during which he is advised by the irate officer to avoid women of Ramata’s class and instead settle for “ugly” women such as himself.
Ramata peaks and crashes repeatedly before arriving at a closing scene with Ramata staring out into the horizon, the sea breeze blowing her hair back a suitable end to a special film.
Emeka is a retiring bibliophile and a blue-moon writer. His hobbies include reading books as research material on how to write and daydreaming about actually writing. He enjoys good music and poetry. He also studies medicine.