Directed and Written By Shirley Frimpong Manso
Starring: Jocelyn Dumas, John Dumelo, O.C Ukeje, Nana Mensah and Christable Ekeh
Synopsis: Kwarley played by Jocelyn Dumas is a doctor with a happy life; it seems to us at first. A thriving career, married to the man of her dream, she seems to have it all. The story flips almost as it starts. She finds out that she is HIV positive, thanks to an ex-boyfriend Henry (played by O.C Ukeje).
Her marriage is put to a test after she finds out about her disease. What is the value of – for better or for worse, couples say that at the altar all the time but do they abide by this promise? It is on this that the whole film is based.
Shirley Frimpong Manso is exceptional. A talent that was exposed to us after the Contract (Featuring Yvonne Okoro) and there is a consistency in the way she directs, and in the way she writes. She seeks stories that start a conversation that a lot of people can relate to and that is what is important about her productions. Love or Something Like That is filled with really important dialogue. Every scene matters and through the action, the viewer experiences dialogue with purpose, action that leads to revelation. Shirley’s goal was to give a compelling assessment on the trouble’s marriages face, and she uses HIV to do so. There is the problem of infidelity but at the end of it all, the film is an earnest portrayal that focuses on married people.
Relationship at any stage is not easy and that is what she is most critical about.
That being said, we would have to scrutinize some part of the script that she may have thought would not matter to the audience. Kwarley is married to Alex and when her ex-boyfriend who is in need of treatment for HIV walks into her office, it leads to a wild revelation. He is HIV positive and she could be too. How did she get this disease? He raped her or that was what it looked like to us. His excuse is, he thought that way he could hook her with a pregnancy and she would remain with him, his insecurity led him to rape her.
When her marriage starts crumbling, she goes back to him, she starts an affair with him and the director and writer allows it to flow like it is normal. That is not normal; it is not questioned by Kwarley, why does she have to go back to a rapist? Because he is sick, because of sympathy, or is forgiveness just that good that an issue as serious as rape is trivialised by Manso. The issue is only brought up in one of the most defining scenes by Alex. He wants to make his marriage work and when he returns, she is not there and he gets angry and in a bid to condemn her, he questions her about her reason to go back to a man that transmitted the virus to her. He does not know about the rape but asking her about her reason of going back to the man that infected her is important. She should be angry. She should resent him but no she is having an affair with him. A great story, if we take the issue of rape away, it is not a busy conversation, it allows critical thinking but even at that no thinking can excuse why she went back to the man who raped her.
The issue of consent is brought up in the film, even though once. Asantua and Kwarley have a conversation on the issue of rape and when Kwarley tries to question it, Asantua excuses it as, he was your boyfriend, from there a conversation about the importance of consent should have started but it doesn’t. Kwarley falls in love with Henry again. Alex almost has an affair with the sassy, quite intelligent yet manipulative Sonia (Christabel Ekeh) and at the end of it all; Alex comes out as the true hero of the film.
He can’t cope with his wife having HIV aids because he is human. He is allowed to go through human emotions and it is this human emotion that forces him to withdraw, he heals and that helps him to start the process of healing his marriage.
Jocelyn Dumas is striking, thanks to good acting, in Love or Something like that. For the first time, I see her take action on screen and we are not getting bombarded by the woman that has been featured severally online for her good body and beautiful face. She takes control of the film, she shines through, and there was a clear dedication to portraying the character of Kwarley. If there are people yet to see her in this, this would change the perception people have of Joselyn Dumas. She is exceptional.
Makeup is meant to create believability but there was more in the acting of O.C Ukeje than the makeup artistes’ skilful make-up. John Dumelo does well for the character he is playing, it has been a long time, I watched him in anything, but this is a reason to check him in his next feature and the one after that. The standout performance comes from Nana Mensua who plays Asantua the sharp tongued, play girl with a little bit of intelligence. She owns every scene she is in, with a great sense of humour not forgetting to accompany that with good acting, which will make you wish you had a friend like that.
Love or Something Like That is a film you should watch. There is something to learn from the triangle of Alex, Kwarley and Henry.
About the Author
Rejoice is a 21-year-old aspiring Filmmaker and a big dreamer. She’s also a ‘Theatre and film’ arts graduate from the University of Jos, Nigeria.