By Amarachukwu Iwuala
Rose Chinda/Mummy (Liz Benson-Ameye) is overly concerned about her children and their families scattered all over the world; calling them endlessly, thereby becoming intrusive. Her only son, Chijioke (Daniel K. Daniel), who feels disturbed by his mum’s incessant calls, travels from his base in Lagos to Port Harcourt to spend his annual leave with her upon reflections after the demise of a colleague’s mother. His experience within that period is the thrust of Mummy Dearest.
Willis Uzo Ikedum’s first feature film, Mummy Dearest, is refreshingly brilliant. He heeds the call, wittingly or unwittingly, by Joke Silva in the Vanguard Allure of 6th November, 2011 for strong female characters of all ages to be created in films. She said, “What you find now is that writers are writing, but are not exploring the ages, the multidimensional areas of women in their middle ages and exploring their experiences that will be nice for the audience to see and connect with.”
The acting in the film is understated, boosting verisimilitude. Liz Benson reaffirms her position as one of Nigeria’s best actors, owing to her unparalleled acting skills. Her mannerisms and slogan – ‘Nekwanu m o, Jesus’ (See me o, Jesus) – make her genuinely human because many people have catchphrases, but these are hardly seen in Nollywood films. Rather, we see stereotypical characters all the time. Daniel K. Daniel is an actor that will make an exceptional impact in the film industry if he keeps up or surpasses the standard he set for himself in this flick. Oronne’s (Gina Castel’s) sonorous voice is distinct; she and the boy, who plays her son, are also at home in acting; so are several other cast of the film.
Ikedum pays attention to little details like showing pictures of the Chinda family from decades ago – good family history. Chijioke’s portrait at 10 years or thereabouts is conspicuously seen in the family’s living room, telling everyone the prime position he occupies in the family as the only son; the part of Nigeria they hail from places utmost importance on male children. Even his name – Chijioke, God holds my share or inheritance – is exclusively masculine; telling everyone that there is an heir, whether apparent or presumptive.
A majority of Nigerian films present middle-aged and elderly women as malicious mothers-in-law who derive joy in meting out cruelty to their daughters-in-law. Ikedum’s Mummy Dearest gladly challenges that label, showing that much as we all have our idiosyncrasies, flaws, prejudices and biases, which are often the cause of human conflicts, these differences can be managed so as to maintain cordiality in the family. Ikedum presents a blemished woman, whose weaknesses do not make her any less lovable.
When parents are left alone after their children have taken off to pursue careers and/or raise their own families, the loneliness and insecurities they face are some of what we see in Mummy Dearest, conveyed in a manner that; according to Joke Silva, quoted at the outset; the audience can connect with. Through her nanny, the need to maintain a semblance of family life is portrayed. Initially, it appears the nanny’s children, who refer to Mrs. Chinda as grandma, are really her grandchildren due to the way they relate with her.
Another interesting trait exhibited by middle-aged women, whose children have all left home in search of the Golden Fleece as perceived in Mummy Dearest is that they are very religious, devoting a lot of their time to spiritual activities. Again, they think that today’s young ladies are wild and usually treat them with suspicion, assuming that they make their (the middle aged women’s) sons; whom they trained to be frugal; extravagant. Click on the link to read more 360nobs