‘Strangers’ Embark on Life’s Journey with Some Flaws
Nollywood has had a long-standing reputation for producing blockbuster films with an ensemble of A-list actors, luxurious settings, and convoluted plots. However, the movie “Strangers” bucks the trend, proving that a simple, well-told story can be just as engaging. Directed by Biodun Stephen and produced by Banji Adesanmi, the film is a faith-based drama inspired by true events that take the audience on a compelling journey of emotions, highlighting the power of goodwill, love, and humanity.
It opens with Adetola ( Lateef Adedimeji) explaining via a voiceover how he would like to share more about his life experiences and the setting of his village to one Mrs. Kylie (which we are made to know of later in the film) through letters so they can stop being strangers. The story revolves around Adetola, a boy living in the remote village of Ago-Ireti in Southwestern Nigeria, surrounded by a beautiful landscape. His family comprises his pregnant mother (Bimbo Oshin), his older sister (Tiwatope Ifeoluwa later acted by Bolaji Ogunmola), and his grandfather (Peter Fatomilola), a witch doctor.
Ade’s journey in life begins with a dream where he drowns in a flood only to be saved by a stranger. His sister dismisses the dream as a result of hunger or malaria, but the dream sets the course for his life. Days later, Ade goes swimming with his friends and returns home with a strange hitching on his leg which transforms into a foul-smelling injury that defies all herbal treatments. His mother is helpless and his grandfather’s treatment is in vain, leaving Ade in agony. Fortunately, a set of evangelists visit the village and a medical outreach team follows shortly after. They examine Ade but conclude that he needs to be transferred to a hospital in Lagos.
Through the kindness of a stranger (Mrs. Kylie) living outside the country, Ade undergoes surgery and is on his way to recovery. The stranger’s goodwill does not stop there as she sponsors Ade’s primary education, later inspiring him to become a medical doctor. However, when the stranger dies, Ade’s dreams are almost crushed as the money she left behind can only take him through secondary school. Despite the frustration, he is determined to achieve his dream of becoming the best-graduating student as he heads off to the university.
One of the strengths of Strangers lies in its ability to tell Ade’s story in its raw form, depicting the transition of his character through different stages and decades of his life. The starting point of Lateef Adedimeji as the narrator, down to the younger versions portrayed by Daniel Bogunmbe and Mide Glover, is seamless. The actors hardly put a foot wrong as the three cast members walk in the same pattern and sound very much alike. After the younger Ade undergoes surgery on his leg, it affects how he walks, highlighting the attention to detail in the production.
The synergy between the other actors brings every character to life with the viewers feeling passion, stress, agony, and joy through verbal and non-verbal cues. The comic relief in the film is also noteworthy, provoking intermittent laughter.
One notable aspect of Strangers is the infusion of various Nigerian indigenous languages, adding a layer of authenticity to the production. As observed lately, there is a deliberate infusion of various Nigerian indigenous languages into Nollywood productions. Filmmakers are beginning to realize that there is beauty in the mother tongue and what Strangers does so well is that it aptly represents the rich cultural heritage of the Yoruba tribe, with many of the dialogues delivered in the language.
It also showcases the acting prowess of Cameroonian actress Damarise Ndamo, who portrays the character of Mrs. Macaulay, who is Ade’s foster mother and wife of Mr. Macaulay (Chris Iheuwa). The on-screen couple often communicate in French which not only added depth to their characters but also gave insight into Mrs. Macaulay’s international background as she runs an international NGO.
Additionally, the cinematography was top-notch, capturing the scenic beauty of the village and the bustling city. The camera work was smooth, and the shots were well-framed, capturing every detail of the story. The lighting was also well done, creating the mood for every scene.
A minor downside of the film however is that it felt a bit rushed toward the end, leaving some plot points unexplored. For instance, in the process of trying to keep the limelight on the main character, Ade, the audience is left to guess what will happen to other characters like Ade’s older sister. Nothing was revealed about her life after her brother became successful. Furthermore, the film revealed that Ade had a younger brother but there was no scene to show how his life turned out except that he was sent to Lagos to learn a vocational trade.
Conclusively, Strangers is an excellent film that portrays the journey of an ambitious young boy from a remote village who ends up becoming a successful medical doctor despite the odds. The film’s plot, cast, cinematography, soundtrack, and language are all commendable, making it a must-watch for everyone who loves a good emotional story.
Release date: Theatrical release: April 29, 2022; Netflix: March 17, 2023
Runtime: 1 hour and 58 minutes
Streaming Service: Netflix
Director: Biodun Stephen
Cast: Lateef Adedimeji, Bimbo Oshin, Bolaji Ogunmola, Debbie Felix, Femi Adebayo, Ndamo Damaris, Chris Iheuwa, Jide Kosoko, Bimbo Akintola, Mide Glover Nonso Odogwu, Waliu Fabemi, and Taiwo Ibikunle