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“One Too Many” Tackles Deep-Seated Trauma in a Broken System

Starring Dakore Egbuson-Akande and Chimezie Imo as a mother and son concealing scars both old and new, the film takes on the ambitious task of exploring generational trauma inflicted by corrupt law enforcement upon one family.
March 9, 2024
6:52 pm
One Too Many

Secrets borne out of trauma have a way of engulfing lives, dimming even the brightest of days. This painful truth sits at the heart of “One Too Many,” the latest offering from director Kayode Kasum.


While the narrative carries dramatic potential to spotlight the real crisis of police brutality’s impact, uneven pacing and an emotionally distant tone ultimately undermine the film’s noble aims.


We open on single mother Adesuwa (Egbuson-Akande) doting over her young adult son Otas (Imo), the two sharing a close bond marked by unspoken tension. Through fragmented flashbacks and terse conversations, we slowly unravel a backstory steeped in layered trauma. Adesuwa harbors secrets tied to a violent police encounter echoing experiences with her own father years ago. This pain simmers under the surface as she tries building a quiet life raising Otas alone.


However, the past inevitably repeats itself when Otas accidentally kills his friend Eric (Joshua Richard), putting him at the mercy of the same brutal police system. With Otas imprisoned and threatened with years behind bars, Adesuwa makes a fateful choice: break her silence and reveal long-buried secrets to save her son from unjust punishment.


Here lies “One Too Many’s” commendable core — examining cyclical injustice and the corrosive nature of buried truth. Co-writers Ginika Ozioko and Jeanine Okafor weave timely themes of police brutality into the strained relationship between mother and son. In a country increasingly trying to erase tragedy from public memory, framing personal trauma against state-sanctioned violence makes for tragic yet essential viewing.



Regrettably, the film too often loses momentum chasing its weighty ambitions. The script struggles juggling multiple complex threads, leaving pivotal emotional beats unearned or characters acting inexplicably between scenes. Major developments needed more patient setup, especially regarding the central relationship. We get only glimpses into Adesuwa’s psyche and see little affection between her and Otas beforehand to make their eventual estrangement truly resonate.


Additionally, the breakneck pacing leaves no room for nuance. In just days, Otas transforms from obedient son to cold prisoner with few credible middle steps. Later, when his case symbolizes larger societal rot, it feels more convenient plot point than earned turning point. While social commentary comes from a worthy place, its delivery lacks conviction.


These narrative issues extend to the performances of the cast. Beyond Ikponmwosa Gold’s empathetic presence as Adesuwa’s father, few make a strong impression as distinct individuals. Even leads Egbuson-Akande and Imo rarely exhibit palpable chemistry or inner turmoil. For a film exploring profound pain, the lukewarm emotions on screen prove disappointing.


While social commentary remains “One Too Many’s” strength, even the well-intentioned themes get shortchanged by sloppy incorporation. After ignoring the harrowing End SARS protests for over an hour, the film tries to namechecks the massacre to validate its own thin police harassment arc..


What we’re left with are traces of a resonant story undone by muddled execution. “One Too Many” reaches for powerful societal questions about violence and truth yet neglects doing the quiet character work to make such themes land with weight.


The hollow ring of unspoken trauma carries through “One Too Many” like a solemn dirge. And while earnest effort deserves some praise, muddled plotting and detached direction make for an uneven experience that never fully shakes the shadows. We may leave pondering relevant questions about ancestral pain and systematic injustice.


One Too Many

Release Date: February 23, 2024

Runtime:. 1 hour, 31 minutes, 2 seconds

Streaming Service: Netflix

Director: Kayode Kasum

Cast:  Dakore Egbuson- Akande, Imo Chimeize, Jide Kosoko, Temilolu Fosudo, and Omowunmi Dada

TNR Scorecard:


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