WITH THE MOVIE SYLVIA, A WORLD UNRAVELS
Trino Motion Pictures recently screened the 104- minute psychological thriller Sylvia at the Silverbird Cinemas in Lagos for a select audience consisting of movie critics and journalists. It was the press premiere of the movie, scheduled to hit the cinemas on Friday, September 21. With Babatunwa Aderinokun as the director, it came as no surprise to watch another minimalist interpretation of reality juxtaposed with fantasy. Trino Studios has a history of movie productions with a handful of actors and heavy technical details. A quick example is the short film The Encounter set against the Nigerian Civil War in 1967.
Directed by Daniel Oriahi, the opening scene in Sylvia is a mental institution with a collective of eccentric individuals mostly treated as worthless entities. Typically, the resident nurse walks through the aisle, distributing medications to patients, nonchalant until she finds Richard Okezie ( Chris Attoh) writing a literary piece in sheets of paper. The conversation that ensues between Richard and the inquisitive nurse leads to a series of dramatic episodes detailing romance, fantasy, love, obsession, crime and revenge.
The plot develops around Richard, a young promising advertising executive, whose success story through school and career owes much to a female childhood friend, Sylvia who exists only in his dream. The story takes a phantasmagoric turn when Richard falls in love with Gbemi ( Ini Dima Okojie) at first sight and subsequently, he casually dismisses his relationship with Sylvia ( Zainab Balogun). Apparently, Richard thinks breaking up is a walk in the park but Sylvia demonstrates to him that it is a road to hell, unleashing vengeance of untold dimension.
Written by Vanessa Kanu, Sylvia is a careful exposé on the African mythology about the relationship between the spiritual and the material world, if perceived through the cultural lens. The screenwriter draws upon the age- long belief in the existence of characters in the spiritual world, whose actions can impact on the reality of their human host. The storytelling deviates from the usual narrative pattern in Nollywood movies wherein the protagonist encounters a spiritual problem and seeks spiritual- help end of story.
Sylvia is open- ended, subject to numerous interpretations. If examined from a scientific point of view, Sylvia qualifies as a psycho- drama with its roots in mental health. For instance, a viewer can argue that Richard didn’t seek professional help when his monster girlfriend intrudes his real world. Bearing the burden of secrecy alone must have accounted for his major mental breakdown and violent behaviour during a major pitch presentation for a coveted brand at his office. Sylvia can also be seen as crime story with the conspiracy twist that the villain brings to the gruesome murders that she single- handedly orchestrates. The story’s strength lies in its unpredictability while its weakness arises from the lacklustre dialogue and verbal pacing.
Co- produced by Uche Okocha, Sylvia in the movie represents a bitter lover, rudely intruding the world of her ex- lover and his wife in an attempt to exercise moral justice but failing to earn the viewer’s sympathy. Our world is full of many Sylvias, that is women who can’t accept that their roles in a man’s life are time- bound. Like Sylvia, they camouflage, torture and obsess over a man they cannot have.
The interrogation scene downplays on the use of dialogue as the director, who is highly influenced by European cinema and the camera storytelling technique places emphasis on actors’ facial expressions, demeanour which give a good pace to the drama. The romantic scenes could have been tightened if they were not so prolonged, perhaps to satisfy audience who enjoy such amorous views.
Sylvia movie is worth anyone’s time with its quality pictures, excellent sound matched with original soundtrack executed by Michael Ogunlade.
A scene from the movie