The Satirical ‘Soólè’ Begs for Your Attention…and You Should At Least Listen
Comedic films are Nollywood’s specialty, and Soólè (which literally means “cheap ride”) is no different from the usual antiques we are used to seeing, but it has its sweet spot.
Nigerian filmmakers do not always venture into creating films that revolve around vehicles in transit. The last time a film of such caliber was made was back in 2015 when the Yoruba film Lagos to Benin dropped. It may look like a simple task to film in a moving vehicle filled with people, after all, there is no need for special effects, set pieces, and shooting at multiple locations in different countries, but it is quite challenging.
There are special technicalities that need to be considered like the quality of the camera work and camera movements. If they are sloppy and unprofessional, it would be noticeable in a heartbeat. Also, the entire crew needs to be experts in their field, paying attention to even the minutest of details.
Kudos to the brains behind Soólè because they checked all the boxes on how to shoot a good film on a moving vehicle. The sound quality was excellent, the soundtrack fits the film perfectly and the cinematography was perfect. The production company, Lou-Ellen Clara Company Limited, did a fantastic job.
The satirical elements of the film should be commended because they made it special. En route, the passengers discuss the major issues plaguing the Nigerian society – hypocrisy in religion, holier-than-thou attitudes among the older population, judgment of individuals based on their appearances, and the age-long tale of interstate robbery.
Through their arguments and over-gestures, one realizes that conversations such as those, even when it is through film, are important ones to have. Kayode Kasum is known for driving such conversations through satirical films (Ponzi, Sugar Rush); so, tapping him as the director was a good call.
Soólè’s plot is just as rowdy as the passengers. A bus going from Lagos to Enugu is attacked by armed robbers who have one mission in mind: to cart away with the box that is filled with millions of dollars. They get the box and let the passengers go unharmed but, due to their clumsiness, they carry the wrong box. To right their wrong, they instruct their informant on the bus to cause a scene and get the right box.
He was however unsuccessful because the passengers realize that he is one of the robbers. Meanwhile, two of the passengers (who are undercover police officers) receive word that their fellow passenger is a wanted leader of a criminal organization. Another passenger is an expert archer, one is a spiritualist and the other is a deadbeat who leaves his pregnant wife on the side of the road because of money.
The passengers, who are now in possession of the dollars, come up with a plan to protect the money at all costs and split it once they reach their destination. However, things do not go as planned because the leader of the criminal organization somehow ends up being the boss of the robbers. They take the bag filled with the money, kill a good number of the passengers, and kidnap the rest. There is also a baby factory, the use of a spiritual machete, a “kill the robber with an odeshi” escape plan, and a fight scene that is next to invisible due to the excessive use of smoke.
If that sounds like a lot, it is and that is the major problem with this film. There is too much going on at once. It seems like Kasum is trying to tell ten stories in fewer than two hours and trying to create a diversion from the main direction the film is headed. Truth be told, it is unclear where exactly that is, but it can be construed that it is Lagos because the surviving passengers are shown to be doing well, eleven months after the incident on the bus happened.
Another problem, which is a recurring decimal among Nollywood films, is how audiences are always left with more questions than answers. How did the driver of the bus suddenly resurrect eleven months after he was gunned down? Why did the undercover police officers shoot their fellow officers down at the checkpoint? Aren’t they supposed to be colleagues?
In addition, the robbers and the leader of the criminal organization were all after the millions of dollars in the box. Who exactly owned the money? What was it to be used for? To fund the baby factory business?
Loose ends of a film need to be tied concretely, scenes need to connect to form the storyline and unnecessary scenes need to be deleted. It is upsetting to see that problems like this still exist because Nollywood is documented as the second-largest film industry in the world. The industry has evolved and so has technology; the thought process and approach to filmmaking should do the same as well.
Overall, Soólè is a good one, if your keen eye can move past the glaring problems. It is not as forgettable as some may say because it is the type of film that can be picked up for a second watch, maybe a third if you are a big fan of Sola Sobowale’s acting.
Release Date: November 26, 2021 (theatrical release); October 14, 2022 (Netflix)
Streaming Service: Netflix
Run-time: 1 hour 56 minutes, and 10 seconds
Director: Kayode Kasum
Cast: Adunni Ade, Lateef Adedimeji, Sola Sobowale, Femi Jacobs, Meg Otanwa, Teniola Aladese and Bukunmi Oluwashina