DIRECTOR: UDUAK OBONG PATRICK
PRODUCER: JUDITH AUDU
CAST: STAN NZE, JUDITH AUDU, ROTIMI SALAMI, PEPETUA ADEYEMI
YEAR OF RELEASE: 2016
Life in the ghetto is hard as we have seen in several films; Taxi Driver showed us just how hard it is. It is not easy to lack many things in life that make life just a little easier and it is even harder coming from a poor background and trying to make it big. When we cannot provide some of our basic necessities, it challenges us. The options are few; we either work hard or bend to the temptation of getting what we need by being experts in committing crimes. That is the premise of the story in Just Not Married.
We are introduced to Duke (Stan Nze) he has a sick mother to care for. He does not have the money to care for her. He also has to deal with an elder brother who is an ex-con. All these are challenges he has to handle as a very young man without an encouraging income or a job. He cannot choose to ignore the hardship he has been born to, it lashes him in the face and with different strategies to make it that have failed, he chooses another path. In a bid to find balance, make money, get himself out of the problems that strike him constantly, and to get everything right, he invites his friends Keji (Judith Audu) and Lati (Rotimi Salami) to join him in a fast business of stealing cars and pose in them as newlyweds. We have learned time and time again that when money is involved, greed seems to find its place and when one person in the group is greedy, the business can never be smooth. That is what happens to this group of friends eager to make life better for themselves and their families. They succeed at first but the table turns.
Just Married premiered at the Toronto Film Festival as one of the city to city spotlight films. The festival director called it the best of all TIFF Staff. I see why. It is a great story. A rare perspective to what it means to juggle a life of poverty and sometimes the unfair challenges life offers us. The story focuses on greed but it also bears a resemblance to Gone Grey, a film that features Judith Audu and Stan Nze, not the whole story but its perspective on greed seems quite familiar to what we have in Gone Grey. Aside from that, I appreciate this story for its originality and a rare take on the struggles of being from a poor background and trying to make it and how easy crime offers itself when in poverty. It is not easy and youths are constantly faced with new temptations, it is hard to be genuine when in desperate need. Only a few can manage honesty in time of genuine need. I love that this story picks from this perspective and best of all, from watching this, it is targeted at youths, a wild message on life challenges and what it means to overcome it, it is beautifully executed.
Though we saw a similar perspective in Gone Grey, in Just Married, it is beautiful to see a story that features a predominantly young cast take inspiration from life as it is for some and make art with it, art that seeks to perhaps encourage youths to live in the right part. I thoroughly enjoyed this story for its perspective, even though like many other films, it had some unnecessary scenes but it is still a commendable story.
It features a mainly young and new cast, they offer incredible performances, and it is natural, most importantly, the film did not need the much-hyped star power to be incredible. Each character was able to be incredible in their roles.
Cinematography works quite well, the sound is not great. It is problematic but for Judith Audu this is her debut as a producer and it is applaudable, we should expect better sound quality for her next productions. For this one, the incredible storyline and the stellar cast cover for some of the mishaps.