In ‘Fishbone’, Editi Effiong creates a villain worthy of the title [Review]
‘Up North’ producer Editi Effiong drags his audience into a short but poignant tale of a unifying menace.
Nollywood rarely produces performance-driven directors and this is the reason Editi Effiong’s ‘Fishbone’ holds promise.
‘Fishbone’ is an exploration of drug trafficking and every filmmaking style used attempts to briefly pay homage to this subject matter.
The short film tells the story of a drug counterfeiting network led by Mama T (Shaffy Bello), a notorious drug lord who repeatedly eludes the curious eyes of Inspector (Daniel Etim Effiong).
There’s nothing accidental about ‘Fishbone’. Not the red ensemble worn by Mama T and certainly not the location where the film is shot.
Makoko plays a huge part in the development of this story. In the opening scene, we see law enforcement agents in hot pursuit of a suspected Mama T employee. Asides the obvious storytelling, the race serves as a proper introduction to the ragged reality of life in Makoko.
Albeit romanticized, there’s a need to visualize the helplessness and poverty that Mama T’s victims feel and the filmmaker achieves this by taking us through Makoko’s shanties and half-naked children.
The bathroom scene is another reason ‘Fishbone’ is impressive. Every inch of this momentous clip, from performance to cinematography, is beautifully crafted.
Shaffy Bello becomes a volcanic eruption, delivering a fire cracking performance. Worthy of applause is that she barely uses words and when she eventually does, it’s fiery to say the least.
Prior to the iconic bathroom scene, Bello’s performance stank of sophistication with no wowing factor. However, it is unclear if Editi intentionally created a sophisticated abroad trained chemist who exploits the poor on one hand and feeds them peanuts on another.
The choice of close-up shots for the bathroom scene was vital for audience experience but this choice also gave room for a flaw that attempts to dent the scene’s perfection.
Having the characters gaze at the camera as they wear their emotions on their faces simply serves the purpose of creating intimacy between the audience and the characters.
But, the characters, especially Effiong’s, struggle to maintain focus. For the most part of his monologue, he appears to be staring at Bello instead of the camera.
As ‘Fishbone’ closes with the irony of its villain weeping alongside her victims, the filmmaker throws in a lemon that quickly knocks one out of whatever pathos the experience created.
Understandably, piracy is a problem that unifies creatives. But, a story about the murder of children is no place for filmmakers to discuss how much they have lost to piracy.
The film’s post-credit commentary trivialized the film’s subject matter especially Banky W’s ridiculous death of creatives analogy. Filmmakers will find a way to curb piracy but dead children will never return.
That ill advised endnote left a sour taste in my mouth. Then again, it could have been the taste of guilt from my last visit to a torrent site.
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