“If the burden is too much and stay too long, even love bends, cracks, comes close to breaking and sometimes does break. But when it’s in a thousand pieces around your feet, that doesn’t mean it is no longer love”— Stay With Me, Ayobami Adebayo.
If you ever have the privilege of listening to a love story from the lips of your grandmother, you would be forced to spite the era in which you were born. We come across ancient love stories built on little or reasonably no material resources as it’s a condiment for the longevity of relationships today yet mysterious as it might seems, such love stories end up becoming classic reference points for generations to come. But if love can be sustained to become a monumental force with practically nothingness, how much more spicy would it be when fortunes, chocolates and candies get into the mix? Well, we are all walking examples of paradox, our love stories and diversity in our generations too, likewise contradictory.
Paradox, the latest movie off the creative cooking pot of Kenny George is not only timely but another reminder of why her status quo as the Nollywood queen of rebirth and difference is undisputable. This era is one with a central concern on things of the heart, being in love seems to be a social standard and though not admitted by many, trust and communication have been discarded off the ingredients needed to complete the making of what might equal tasty fried chicken. In just a movie, we are taken through the phase of broken hearts, shattered lives, crumbled visions and even worse, a glorified eventuality of a tragedy prevented all along. Kenny George, beyond a story, is discreetly telling us that love is the bedrock of all things, good and bad, all dependent on how it’s being wielded — as a shield or as a sheath.
With a movie of not more than eleven casts, Tunji Adegbenro (Muyiwa Ademola) is the devoted, loving husband who was somehow comfortable to be the victim in someone else’s tragedy. Perhaps, like it was said in the book “Under The Udala Trees”, sometimes, it is hard to know to whom the tragedy really belongs. The movie opens with the murder of Tunji and like it’s often said, when we find the one who takes the head of the butchery, we’ve no doubt found the killer of another forsaken animal. Mr. Adeniyi (Ralph Adeniyi) who, in this case, is the employer to the widowed Bisi Adegbenro (Kenny George) might just be answerable to the death of his employee’s husband. Kenny sure knows how to keep her audience at the edge of the seat, from the very onus, her employment of conflict is not just always on point but steepily unfolding so much that I would see her as a detective, if she never trailed the path of film making. But then, this millennial would no doubt suffer the implications of such, you do not get to see accurate storylines as this every time, not in Nollywood, as much as I’m aware!
The Yoruba(s) have a saying that one who has an infidel as a wife risk being murdered in his sleep or being a witness to the death of such wife. Reverse seems to be the case here (after all, that’s why it is Paradox), it’d be a sabotage to describe Bisi as a cheat. She was hardbent loyal to the vows of matrimony and even at the continuous temptuousness of a greedy, lustful boss that Mr. Adeniyi is, she still remained true to her regular mantra “I am a married woman… I am in love with my husband…”.
The recurring persistence of Mr. Adeniyi, a happily married man with three kids over his employee made him a perfect victim for Bisi’s tragedy, he could have simply learnt from the tale of the elephant that chose to torment even the grasses beneath him. Well, go to the ants and learn from them.Swaying our attention away from the murder of Tunji, there is curiosity of what would become of Laura (Jumoke Odetola) who might just risk becoming a baby mama for a married man, Wale (Akinwale Akinnifesi) who is not ready to forsake the legal mother of his kids but would not stop having a ten minutes enjoyment with tons of mistress, all around. There is averagely no visible difference between Wale and Mr. Adeniyi because just like love is an emotion, lust too is a filial state but when the thirst is quenched, the mug might as well be sidelined. Maybe, the contrast between both is one risking jail term or even death, as an aftermath of lust and the other, refusing to pick calls after his mistress got delivered of a baby.
In my previous review of Kenny George’s craft, I described her as a queen versed in the devising of what I call ‘perfect distraction’ and just like I opined, the same magic played out in Paradox. Of course, everyone was definitely on the lookout for a contradiction with a trace of lesser truth but isn’t it just out of the world that Bisi had to kill her husband, Tunji in the rage of having a child out of wedlock? It’d fascinate the audience to know that Tunji was merely a bridge between his friend, Wale and his baby mama, Laura; hence bringing to us the reality that if anyone had a child out of wedlock, it was definitely Wale and not Tunji. But well, when sojourners at distant ends come together, it’s only just that the bridge falls off. Beyond a movie, Paradox is a line of action, a stand alone truth that every doom’s day can only be postponed but not totally scrapped. Tunji was no doubt a man living in the world of his own fears, the fears of having to lose his wife to some perverted boss and even with his high level of jealousy which is in line with the trait of possessiveness, he would still prefer to conceal the truth of his friend’s (Wale’s) adulterous flings so as not to break his home. And in ensuring that what’s sealed never get to kiss the sunset, he would rather not mention it at home even to his cherished wife, Bisi.
Bisi, on the other hand, is a woman who got her heart broken by what’s not even meant to be a mealshare for her. Speech is silver, silence is golden but Kenny craftily put it to us that both the flute blowers and the wall scribblers are prone to being victims and heroes, at the same time. Perhaps, burning a night off for sincere conversations would have saved Tunji from the taste of a bullet and if he is safe hence, there might not be a reason to have Bisi watch her beauty rot off behind bars. So in what might have been concluded with a thorough, honest communication, we have both Tunji and Bisi becoming victims of another person’s tragedy while making a tragedy out of their own love story. There’s nothing worse than being cornered in your own story.
Since we are all sinners best at sinning differently, the watchword of Tunji might be more than apt then — ‘only sin a sin you can live with’. While many would argue there’s no point having to sin at all, the point of not sinning might equally be a sin, against the norms. I see the fragments of ‘Paradox’ in quite a number of proposed unions, affairs and flings; there’s a repeat of not so different events that has made the present generation accept the notion that having to love is to equally learn to harbor pains but if pain ever have to weigh higher than love, then an ingredient is missing. One thing I would always respect Kenny George for is that she has proven endlessly that she is not one scriptwriter concerned about impression but rather, essence and timelessness.
With the sombre soundtrack by Indo still replaying in my head, I have not totally gotten over the after effects of Kenny George’s Paradox and obviously, that’s what good works should do to anyone. Good, admirable craft leaves you asking for more, yearning for more yet watching the available over and over and spotting new magic. The fact that Kenny George, in virtually all her movies pay attention to details is worthy of commendation, her stories drag the audience way from impulse and bring him or her into the flesh of the character, there’s no moment in which you can ever be left out in Kenny’s acts. I still feel the aftertaste of regrets on Bisi’s lips, the unsaid words left in a bullet ridden Tunji, the nightmares of Laura having to raise a single child in a chaotic society as this, the heaviness by which Wale would till the end of his life spend chiming regrets — there’s nothing worse than being cornered in your own story. Trying to pass a rating on Paradox would be trying to demean a work of all time; gold is gold and Kenny is art in the very raw form, how much ado would be worthy enough for Oosha, mother of ingenious twists?