Finally the moment I have been waiting for since the 19 October Lagos premiere of the Audrey Silva production The Meeting – despite a technical glitch the producers Mildred Okwo and Rita Dominic encountered only 24 hours before the premiere, as is often the case, the show went on over month ago and the delightful duo presented their equally delightful romantic comedy to 150 select guests at The Oriental Hotel in Lagos. However, the technical issue meant that they had to go back to the drawing board to ensure the best of the best for general release which comes this Friday.
When I say ‘romantic comedy’, please note, I use the term loosely as The Meeting introducing Femi Jacobs and Linda Ejiofor of Tinsel fame on to the big screen in their joint cinematic debut is more a ‘romantic comedy with a conscience.’ From red tape and tedious time-wasting in government offices to impracticalities of ‘African time’, from feckless officials dilly-dallying with people’s time, money and at times fate to the levelling ground of the waiting room of a minister, there is much social criticism woven artfully into the fabric of comedy. Yes, you will be rooting for the budding relationship that dare not speak its name between Lagosian businessman Makinde and feisty Abuja babe Ejura. But equally, and increasingly, you will be rooting for Makinde’s triumph in the face of cantankerous Clara Ikemba, who is quick to show ‘code red’ to anyone she feels has committed an act of disrespect – or lo and behold – impatience.
Femi Jacobs and Linda Ejiofor bring solid acting and great chemistry to their roles. Even scenes which may lead the audience of a filthier mind frame down shadier alleyway – like when Makinde welcomes Ejura into his hotel room wearing only a robe – are handled with dexterity to convey the essence of this budding romance – mutual respect, affection and effortless banter. Femi portrays effortlessly both the middle-aged man once again finding his feet in matters of the heart after having devoted his life to work and his two children and the increasingly frustrated businessman on the verge of taking matters into his own hands and plotting a coup of sorts against Clara.
Rita Dominic stars as Clara and shows off her star credentials in a role that sees her flex her comedic acting skills. Despite her dominant character, it is her star power, it has to be said, which ensures that Clara comes to life not at the expense of Makinde and other characters, but in conjunction with them. She does not hog the limelight but effortlessly shines in those moments where the spotlight is on Clara, with her Glo cards, her ‘Lobontins’ and her code red.
And Rita is not the only star in this production which sees Kate Henshaw and Chinedu Ikedieze bring to a life a cross section of Nigerian society in the minister’s waiting room. And of course, we dare you not to give Nse Ikpe Etim, as the minister’s girlfriend of sorts, the once over the minute she saunters into the waiting room dressed to the nines.
The only downside to an otherwise delightful movie set to be a box office hit is that midway through the movie, you may get a sense of ‘Groundhog Day’ where Makinde’s days in Abuja start merging into one never-ending day of going to the minister’s office, coming back to his hotel and chilling by the pool or in his room dressed in a robe waiting for his clothes to be dry cleaned ready for next day. But perhaps, this is all intentional on the part of the producers so as to allow us into the mind of a frustrated man keen to get his business deal signed and get on his merry way back home to Lagos who keeps on fighting the same battle day in day out.
Regardless of whether you’ve spent any particular amount of time in any city to see any person of official standing, The Meeting is a must-see for the mind and the heart; while the social message of the movie to resonate with you while the romance is likely to keep you guessing till the end. Out this week, do not miss The Meeting.
Silverbird Lagos 1.20pm, 8.30pm
Silverbird Ceddi Plaza Abuja 12noon, 4.20pm, 6.40pm
Ozone Cinemas 10.45am, 5.30pm