By Rejoice Abutsa
Director: Moses Inwang
Cast: Omotola Jase Ekeinde, Wole Ojo, Kunle Remi, Tina Mba
There are a variety of things that should come to mind when thinking of your childhood. Ordinarily, any trip to your days as a child should be full of kind memories. Unfortunately, the world is twisted and not everyone has those kind memories to share. This serves as inspiration for Moses Inwang’s new feature with Omotola Jalade. “Alter Ego” is a film on sexual abuse. Alter Ego is exceptionally bold, but even with its boldness, it has its faults.
It took the hype on steamy scenes to get Nigerians trooping to the cinema, and yes that plays a necessary part in the storytelling, but like every filmmaker trying to create a balance between education and entertainment, Moses capitalizes on the sexual scenes, and they are tastefully executed.
“Alter Ego” is the story of Adaora Igwe, a successful lawyer. Her interest is in young girls that have been abused. There is a brief diversion from this when she sets up a pastor taking advantage of his female adult members, but Ada’s focus is the young girls on the street, the girls that are taken advantage of because they spend long hours on the street without protection, the young girls that have parents that will rather ignore child abuse than fight it, all because of the lack of money. Ada has the money so she fights for them, she is exceptional at her job- a consummate professional, respected by all, but her job is a compensation for her own trauma. She has an obsessive desire for sex as a result of the sexual abuse she endured as a child.
Ada sleeps with her brother in-law, her gardener and her driver, the difference is that this act is consensual, but she fires them after the act. Ada eventually meets Timothy, a billionaire philanthropist who is the first person we hear her open up to on her past as an abused child. It is interesting to watch the build-up on Ada and Timothy’s story.
Alter Ego is a filmmaker’s perspective on how trauma operates, it can come as anger, and it can come as addiction. What happens to us as children can persist as adults, and Adaora, even though a fictional character is here to prove the effects of abuse. Predatory behavior plays a crucial role in the making of Alter Ego – you know the type of attitude that goes, “I have something to offer, I will take something else from you, and if you speak to someone about it, I will take the greater service I am offering you”, that is what happens in abuse situations, and we see that in action in “Alter Ego”.
The film enjoyed a buoyant publicity round, it is an opportunity to shape public opinion and improve action on the topic. Prayer does not solve the problem here, actions help!
Alter Ego is a beautiful film on many levels because it also concentrates on how respectful people can contribute in damaging the lives of others. Who would think that a philanthropist, partnering with UNICEF will be a perpetrator of such a heinous act? There are influential people in the society hiding under the canopy of “respectability” and committing the same crimes that people without this “respectability” are punished for.
The director, Moses disregards the use of flashback in his film and takes us through Ada’s story with the use of efficient dialogue and acting from Omotola Jalade. We don’t get to watch the writers explore Ada’s healing which is where I had a little problem. Watching her reclaim control by being sexual with the men she has some sort of control over does not do the healing and we needed her to heal. Once she meets Timothy this obsessive desire tones down. Does falling in love with Timothy heal Adaora? And after the turn of events does it mean that Adaora will continue as a hypersexual woman? These are questions I would definitely like to pose to the filmmakers.
There is also the last scene of the film, which as a viewer, I feel should have not made the cut.
On the brighter side, Alter Ego is necessary to our society, if it pushes parents/guardians to be aware of their children, to listen more, and to push for justice then its purpose has been fulfilled. Alter Ego displays the type of empathy that is necessary for our society, and I am glad Moses Inwang made this film.
Omotola Jalade does not have anything to prove at this stage in her career and it is interesting to watch her make a comeback with Alter Ego, she gives the script her best. She is impressive but Kunle Remi threatens her presence with a few impressive scenes. The first scene we meet him, we take immediate note of the actor and the steady work he is putting into improving his craft.
We need more films that tastefully explore the problem of Post traumatic disorder. 10 films are not enough, not even 20, and maybe a film at the cinema every weekend about the problem of abuse will help drive the message.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rejoice Abutsa is a 22-year-old aspiring Filmmaker and a big dreamer. She’s also a ‘Theatre and film’ arts graduate from the University of Jos, Nigeria.