You see in this industry, there are actors and there are actors. When you want to talk about A list actors, you talk about Genevieve Nnaji and Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde. With over 200+ movies to their names, these two women are in a class of their own. These two have acted together so many times they’ve become the star duo in several movies, including this. Here’s my lazy but honest review of Chineze Anyaene’s Ijé: The Journey.
This 2010 film follows the story of Chioma Opara (Genevieve Nnaji) who flies out to Los Angeles to help her sister Anya Oparah-Michino (Omotola Jalade) who has been arrested for the murder of her husband and two other men. While in L.A, Chioma does all she can including conducting her own personal investigation, to save her sister from spending the rest of her life in jail for a crime she believes Anya didn’t commit.
The film goes back and forth between the present day sisters and back when they were young girls in the village. The flow between the back and forth gives us a peek into the deeply special bond these sisters share. It explains why they’re the way they are and why Chisom makes me think about my own sisters and our bond.
The casting in the film was superb. Finding child actors in Nigeria can be quite tough, either casting directors don’t haVe specific criteria or there just aren’t enough child actors so they pick whoever comes their way. But this, this was different, the younger versions of Anya (Barbra Opara Chinma) and Chioma (Precious Ebelechukwu Okaro) felt so perfect, by watching them you could believe these girls could grow up to look like Omotola and Genevieve – okay maybe not Genevieve that much but you get my drift. Asides from how good the casting was physically for the child actors, these girls could actually act, they weren’t just reading lines, they were actually giving a performance that I cant lie is award winning.
The award-winning performances weren’t delivered by only Barbra Opara Chinma and Precious Ebelechukwu Okaro, all the lead characters killed it. It’s no surprise that Genevieve and Omotola gave stellar performances, but I was a bit surprised about Jalen (Larry Ulrich). He’s an actor I haven’t heard or seen much about but he was able to deliver in this role. I don’t know if I’m the only one who’s noticed that in some Nigerian movies that involve people from other races, they kind of free ball it. In the sense they just pick anyone that looks like they can play the part, but it hardly matters if they can act. However, Larry Ulrich killed his performance.
There’s so much about this film was impressive, for example the cinematography and production design were amazing, it didn’t feel exactly feel like they were out of Nigeria (like some Nollywood films try to make extremely obvious), it just felt like a regular movie with great production design.
Ije is a great Netflix watch for the weekend. It may be an 11-year-old movie, but it seems timeless. So those of you that haven’t watched it or keep hearing people yapping about it, this is your chance to watch.