A Green Fever: For Taiwo Egunjobi, less is more – Seyi Lasisi.

The last time I saw the Taiwo Egunjobi-directed film, All Na Vibes, was a year ago.

Egunjobi made a film with the same noticeable traits first seen in his debut feature-length project In Ibadan alongside his frequent creative collaborator, Isaac Ayodeji who is credited with writing the script,.

Shot in Ibadan featuring a small cast and working with a compelling history and politics-laden narrative, the film’s plot revolves around the story of three young adults experiencing and living life during one of the frequent Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) strike action.

All Na Vibes, which toured film festival circuits before being acquired by Netflix, accommodated the director’s penchant for exploring topical topics.

In A Green Fever, the director’s recent project which is currently streaming on Prime Video, Egubjobi returns with recurrent screenwriter Ayodeji and actor Tolu Fosudo and ‘Chukwu Martin.

This noir film is a continuation of the filmmaker’s ode to Ibadan and a reiteration of the writer and director’s interest in Nigerian history; the film is set in Ibadan during the tense and bloodletting era of Nigeria’s military dictatorship in the ‘80s.

Kunmi Braithwaite (Temilolu Fosudo), and Ireti (Darasmi Nadi) are a believable father and daughter duo who are caught in the mix of a protest and curfew. Ireti, the supposed daughter, is suffering from a strange disease: the titular green fever. Colonel Bashiru’s (William Benson) house becomes their makeshift haven when Ireti loses consciousness as her illness exacerbates. Mathilda (Okezie Precious), with stern disapproval from the Colonel, decides to provide comfort for father and daughter. Skeptical of Kunmi’s mysterious appearance in his secluded house on the cusp of a coup, Colonel Bashiru places innocent-looking Kunmi under scrutiny.

All through the film, we watch the two men engage in political, historical, and architectural conversations about Nigeria. As this conversation goes on, we observe Kunmi and Mathilda build a possible attraction towards each other. While Kunmi and Colonel Bashiru’s verbal exchange is often strained, Kunmi and Mathilda’s banter is light and filled with familial ease.

A dialogue and character-driven film, A Green Fever, skirts around historical and politically sensitive Nigerian stories. Although the planned coup wasn’t visually captured in the film, the characters’ dialogue often filters back to it. Egunjobi and Ayodeji, known for their political and historical consciousness, permeate the film’s plot progression with Nigerian realities during the ‘80s and present-day Nigeria.

Another commendable part of the film is the crew members’ deft handling of the technical aspects of the film. There exists a seamless and admirable attention to detail by the editor, cinematographer, and sound designer.

Without being overtly attention-seeking, Okwong Fadamana’s camera work draws the viewers’ gaze to the architectural feel of the film by understating and capturing the props and set designs created by Onakoya Yinka, the film’s art director.

Mining elements of film noir – cynical characters, intricate plots, and an underlying existential philosophy,  Gray Jones Ossai’s sound design captures the sonic landscape of the film with its pervasive and ominous intimation of impending doom while serving to instill how edgy Kunmi is. Occasionally, the laid-back sound design gradually increases in tempo capturing a heightened plot point.

Fosudo’s acting is worthy of attention.  His constant switches  from a confused and frightful father to a very scared man before the Colonel, to a self-assured man before Mathilda, and a cunning and unafraid man when he reveals his true identity,  is admirable to behold.

From getting tongue-tied in the presence of the colonel to speaking with familiar confidence with Mathilda, Fosudo embodies the complexities of the character.

Benson and Precious’s acting is good too. Although the film doesn’t carve out much space for Nadi, one of Nollywood’s leading child actors, her acting is believable. While Benson, doesn’t seep into the idiosyncratic traits of a military officer, his countenance and occasional tense voice command respect and inspire fear in Mathilda and Kunmi.

A Green Fever, Egunjobi’s third full-length feature, is vibrant with the indie filmmaker identity. In a clime like Nollywood where there are numerous films and TV shows that get tied up in cliches, Egunjobi’s films always shine bright, even when there are noticeable concerns,  as an example of worthy Nigerian cinema.

***Seyi Lasisi is a Nigerian creative with an obsessive interest in Nigerian and African films as an art form. He tweets @SeyiVortex.


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