Kate Henshaw (Diane) and Toyin Oshinaike (Zebra crossing)’s amazing performances were not enough to stop Roti from being a money-guzzling disaster. I feel like I should lead with this.
When the movie ended at the cinema, the sighs and hisses told all the story: we had hoped for too much from Afolayan and he’d treated our fuckups.
That nowhere on the internet has this been said is testimony to the fact that either ass-licking has been raised to new heights or movie reviewers have unbelievably low expectations.
The movie centres around a couple, Kabir (Kunle Afolayan) and Diane (Kate Henshaw) who lost their only child after years of waiting. Roti, short for Rotimi, means ‘stay with me’ in Yoruba. They’d believed that he had chosen to stay and not die like the rest. But the mother was still worried and months later, her fears became reality as Roti died in surgery.
The subject of the Nollywood movie, Roti is reincarnation. Four years after Roti died, Diane saw a boy that looked just like him on the road. She informed her husband, who skeptical at first, followed her to the road and confirmed that the boy indeed looked like Roti but refused to believe it was Roti.
Diane began to visit the boy and his mother and showered them with gifts. Until the boy’s father, Zebra crossing (Toyin oshinaike) returned from his trip and warned her never to come again.
She lost it and attempted to flee the country with the boy. Her husband went after her, reported to the authorities and she was stopped and arrested.
Kunle afolayan may have been right to go with the narrative technique for his Nollywood movie, Roti but he was not right to have made himself the narrator. The voice stood out in a not-good way. The acting too, somebody else could have played that role better.
Now, the movie did not only fail in its attempt to be ‘deep’, it was riddled with plot holes. That is not to say there were no occasional flashes of brilliance. Kate Henshaw brought her ‘A’ game, she just brought it to the wrong match. Her reaction was top notch. It just wasn’t enough to save the movie. Toyin oshinaike too as zebra crossing became that character completely. His words and actions brought out the essence of that character and perhaps gave us our first and only laugh in that movie.
Reincarnation was not a structure strong enough to hold the movie. The decision to focus on the pain and struggle of the parents after Roti’s death did not work either. It was a long stretch of waiting for something to happen.
And the story? How did the doctor go from “your son is very, very sick” to “don’t worry, it’s not something serious”? The mother-in law, choosing to tell Diane that her son would return was supposed to serve as foundation for the scenes where Diane met the parish priest, where Diane remembered her mother-in law’s words and where Kabir confronted his mother to tell her to change Diane’s mind. Those scenes could have been cut out without affecting the movie.
The encounter with the priest was more disturbing than important. The priest sounded like he was trying to remember his lines. Kate Henshaw had absolutely no reason to have visited the priest of a parish she didn’t attend. In reality, she would have visited her mother-in law instead to tell her to elaborate on what she said about reincarnation rather than visit the priest.