Kunle Afolayan’s most anticipated project is finally out on Netflix. For the past few months, director and producer, Kunle Afolayan has teased us with snippets of his latest project, Swallow. The film is an adaptation of the novel, Swallow, written by Nigerian author, Sefi Atta. The film follows the story of two freinds, Tolani Ajao and Rose Adamson, who are forced into the world of drug traffcking due to the harsh realities of life they are confronted with.
Although highly anticipated by many, I think the movie was underwhelming. I didn’t particularly have any expectations other than believing Kunle Afolayan to deliver a film nearly as amazing as the best film in his film reel, October 1st. I felt the story wasn’t clear, seeing as what should have been the main plot, drug smuggling, was overshadowed by what should have been the sub plot, systematic patriarchy. Considering the title of the film is ‘Swallow’ and the synopsis highlights the main character’s involvement in the drug smuggling, the film was anything but that.
Let’s start off with Tolani Ajao (Eniola ‘Niyola’ Akinbo), the lead character who just didnt sit right as the lead. We can all agree Kunle Afolayan has a knack for casting non actors as lead characters in his films. We’ve seen that tactic be successful in some of his films such as The Bridge with Chidinma and The CEO with Angélique Kidjo. Whereas we’ve also seen it crumble the entire film such as in Citation with Temi Otedola.
It’s a bit difficult to tell if it’s Niyola’s performance or the character itself that was off. Although the character seemed to be warm, reserve and calm, there was something about the character was borderline annoying. Her whole plot was uninteresting and it felt dragged. Out of the two hour film, the first hour and a half was used building up to nothing worth waiting for.
It was clear the main action of this film revolved around Rose (Ijeoma Grace Agu) and OC (Kelvin Ikeduba). It’s rather disappointing that it was pushed back as a sub plot. Ijeoma Grace Agu is brilliant in every role she takes on. I think she did justice to the character and in a perfect world she would have been cast as Tolani instead.
Asides from the plot and the casting decisions, the other aspects of the film were amazing. The detail in the art direction and costume were impeccable and did exactly what it was meant to do, transport you back to the 80s. In terms of cinematography, spearheaded by Jonathan Kovel, it was visually captivating.
Swallow was an okay watch, despite the few ‘hiccups’. If you’re looking for a good period film to take you back to when Nigeria was remotely bliss, this is the film for you.
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