The first thing that needs to be said is that The Tribunal is definitely an improvement after the letdown by Roti. I’m still trying to wrap my head around how almost every review on the internet praised Roti to high heavens. I mean, outside the sterling performances from Kate Henshaw and Toyin Oshinaike, that movie was as bad as it could get.
But I digress…. The Tribunal Nollywood Movie, yeah.
The Tribunal has a theme that viewers can connect to immediately and that’s refreshing. I mean, who doesn’t like a comeback? Who doesn’t want to see a washed-up lawyer who’s messed up because his former partner screwed him over make a comeback and defeat the “forces of evil”? Who doesn’t want to see discrimination punished and the guilty party pay?
The Tribunal Nollywood Movie keyed into basic human desires: the desire to get even, the desire to prove we’re down but not done, the desire to be given a second chance at life. Who wouldn’t root for that?
Damilola Ogunsi had a fair debut. In the initial stages of the movie, he sounded very uncomfortable and looked like he was struggling to remember his lines. But he got comfortable later on and was able to deliver what his character’s role required.
Ade Laoye was a joy to watch. Her interpretation of the character was amazing. Her role was to play the enthusiastic kid from law school that was eager to work with her idol. She delivered that perfectly. We hope to see more of her in the coming years. With a performance like this, we’ll be seeing more of her on the big screens.
Omotola Jalade Ekehinde, brilliant actress that she is didn’t deliver as the villain. She was supposed to be the unflustered boss that didn’t give a damn about the fired staff. She looked like she was trying too hard to look the villain, yeah, even without words. The right kind of acting is the one that happens seamlessly without viewers actually noticing that you are ‘trying’ to be that character. We certainly saw Omotola in court, trying to be that villain, trying to look the role, squinting, trying to appear calm and unbothered.
But again, this may just be the failure of the director to correctly communicate the villain act. African movies are yet to get the villain act right. We are used to loud villains, villains who huff and puff, villains who flex muscles and shout the house down. We have not really developed the villain act where the villain is calm, more of a mental and psychological villain than a physically-confrontational one. If the casting of Omotola as that villain is a journey to getting that right, then the initial failure to capture that villain act may not be so bad after all even if the initial showing leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
Funsho Adeolu’s performance was topnotch. Kunle Afolayan is that lucky. Even if he doesn’t always get it right with plot and directing decisions, he almost always gets it right with cast. Just as Kate Henshaw and Toyin Oshinaike bailed Roti out from getting 2 points out of 10, Funsho Adeolu’s performance in The Tribunal increased the chances of this movie being a really good one.
The character interpretation is amazing. He became that character. I told a friend; Funsho Adeolu is one of the most underrated Nollywood actors. Being in the Yoruba section in Nollywood may have in a way limited his ratings and all, but he is right up there with the best.
The Tribunal Nollywood Movie followed the story of Ifeanyi (Damilola Ogunsi) who was fired from his job by his boss, Abebe (Omotola Jalade Ekehinde) because she had issues with albinos. Ifeanyi’s friend, Tanimowo (Ade Laoye) then visited Jimi Disu (Funsho Adeolu) inside his car where he slept and tried to convince him to help her friend get justice.
Jimi turned down the case and told her he was satisfied with being a ‘charge and bail’ lawyer. Not even the mention of his former law firm got him to change his mind. But Tani would not be deterred. So she put the case file on his car and sat down beside the road, waiting for him to pick it. He finally did and when he read through it, he called her over and thus began the case to get Ifeanyi justice.
I’ll say this, for a movie that is supposed to be a legal drama, this movie failed to do its homework. Making a legal drama is not all about getting a courtroom and placing lawyers inside. How about you do some research on terms, on what’s obtainable and what’s not? How is the courtroom drama different from the pedestrian nonsense we see in low-budget Yoruba movies where the lawyers spend half the court time screaming: “My Lord” and “Objection my Lord”?
The industry is growing and the things that were acceptable in the past should no longer be acceptable. Five years ago, we could have laughed over this because even at that, it was better than the kind of movies made in the past.
The standards should be higher now. Kunle Afolayan is one of the big players that changed the game and raised the bar. He cannot raise the bar and then be trying to play below the same bar. That is unacceptable. You cannot make a legal drama, or any movie for that matter in this age without bringing an expert on board, or if that would be too much, without allowing a lawyer to read through the dialogue and processes and verify that they meet the required standards and won’t make the movie and the message it is trying to convey look like a joke.
The dialogue is certainly better. The script writer did a fair job with the dialogue. For once, we don’t have dialogues that make you want to scratch your eyes out.
To the story itself, The Tribunal is a movie that speaks to corruption, not just in the corporate world, but in the country in general. That scene where Jimi bribed a policeman to have “charge and bail” cases thrown his way is a powerful one that shows the decay rampant in the nation.
The movie tried to paint a brilliant comeback for Jimi Disu and even celebrated that with Ifeanyi saluting him and asking “how did you do that?” That would be hilarious if it wasn’t silly. Actually, the silliness makes it so hilarious. Jimi Disu didn’t make any brilliant comeback. He won because Tani got information off the internet that was presented in court. That’s it. Nothing brilliant.
What comeback movies show is the person actually contributing actively to the comeback. If a washed-out fighter is making a comeback, he starts training again and fights brilliantly to make that comeback. If a washed-out singer is making a comeback, she disciplines herself and rehearses like crazy and then on the big day, she sings her heart out.
What did Disu’s comeback show in The Tribunal Nollywood Movie? It showed Disu drinking and coming late to the court room. It showed him sleeping off and forgetting to appear in court. After cleaning himself up, it showed him sitting still in court, watching Abebe’s lawyers sap the juice out of his client. He was not spectacular, he was just there. He never made a comeback.
Again, how did the discovery that Abebe had three siblings who were albinos kill her case? If anything, shouldn’t that have made it look like she couldn’t have a thing against albinos because she had albinos as siblings?
This movie took the easy way out. It reached conclusions because it had no creative place to go. At best, it’s above average, above the nonsense we’re used to seeing. At worst, it’s a legal thriller that didn’t get its legal jargon right.
Still, The Tribunal Nollywood movie is an interesting watch that we hope will set the pace for even greater works that will continue to raise the bar that has been set.