“Unforgivable” Is A Didactical Crime Thriller That Challenges Perceptions
In a world riddled with numerous societal issues and untamed controversies, the need for didactic tales to constantly alert us to vices we may have relegated to the background never ceases.
In response, Blue Pictures Distribution and Aisre Pictures’ latest crime thriller, “Unforgivable,” embodies all that is wrong with our society today by provocatively exploring false accusations of rape in stunning twists of guilt and innocence.
The film follows the legal battle of a young man, Edafe Iwhiwhu (Tmini Egbuson), standing trial for raping his girlfriend, Regina Ipaye (Nancy Isime), and assaulting law enforcement agents upon his arrest. Through the gripping court trial and enthralling cross-examinations, the story unravels in a series of shocking twists, ultimately leading to a striking revelation: Edafe was innocent all along.
Edafe’s notoriety as a promiscuous and flamboyant playboy leads many –including the audience – to assume his guilt with one police officer notably exclaiming “Doesn’t he look it”? And this, dear viewers, is the central message this film tries to convey: Don’t judge a book by its cover. This also extends to the victim, Regina, who passes off as a damsel-in-distress unlawfully exploited by a promiscuous playboy.
The movie doesn’t hesitate to illuminate the severe impact of the court of public opinion on an accused individual’s mental well-being and personal life. Edafe suffers consequences beyond the courtroom, losing his job before any conviction is made. As the movie unwraps, it inadvertently draws parallels to the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard saga a year ago in which the former was socially ostracized before indelible evidence of his innocence surfaced.
The gender biases within the Nigerian Judicial system are not spared either and Edafe earns himself 21 days in prison for contempt of court for simply addressing such issue.
Equally brought to the audience’s attention are the lengths to which individuals are willing to protect themselves or those they hold dear. Such fear triggers a somewhat mental version of the adrenaline-pumped fight-or-flight mode as evidenced throughout the court trial scenes where Edafe refuses to entrust his liberty to his ex-girlfriend-turned-defense counsel. Instead, he takes it upon himself to confront a team of skilled lawyers, akin to the classic David and Goliath tale, emerging from the courtroom clothed in freedom and unscathed: save for a few bruises sustained during police interrogation.
Although the performances of the cast generally were outstanding –particularly Emeka Okoye’s “Edu” offering moments of comic relief– without question, Timini Egbuson’s was the most impressive. A fascinating blend of an actor and social media influencer, his incredible charisma and talent as a versatile actor has seen him climb the rankings and establish himself among the most sought-after brands in Nollywood currently and it’s easy to see why.
As Edafe – or “Mr. Iwhiwhu,” as he would alternatively be addressed – his court theatrics threw everyone including the judge, the prosecution, his lawyers and even the audience off balance. As we would later get to find out, there is more to Edafe than meets the eye as his supposedly reckless and unethical behavior during proceedings was not without reason.
His striking resilience in the face of abandonment from nearly everyone, including his father, serves as a call to action to all those in similar situations to not quit fighting for justice even when the whole world seems to have turned its back on them.
Director Osezuah Elimihe’s skillful coordination of the script and cast results in an exceptional and coherent story. While the coherency might be questioned upon numerous flashbacks from different characters, the tactical pacing ensures it all culminates into one clear picture; actually, two if we consider the incest-y relationship.
Although one may take Regina’s motive to be quite weak, it gains more context when one acknowledges the unfortunate reality that men have been falsely accused of rape for lesser reasons. Put succinctly, women would do the unthinkable simply out of spite.
However, despite these compelling elements, the only major downside to the movie may lie in its ending and inability to commit fully to the pursuit of its thematic elements. A brief addition showing the false accuser punished in some sort for malicious prosecution would have sufficed. Such an ending would have served as a powerful deterrent for potential false accusers, illustrating the gravity of their actions.
But not to worry. It works simply fine as a compelling rape-centric crime thriller, approaching and branching out to directions not yet seen in Nollywood.
For such a sensitive issue as rape, “Unforgivable” surely stands out for expertly delivering it with a clever blend of humor and a hint of aggression, one which, paired with Timini’s mesmerizing performance, is sure to delight viewers.
Importantly, it takes no sides in the accused-versus-victim divide that almost always brews up when rape cases come within the confines of the court of public opinion. Its very title is a subtle yet profound indication of where it stands: the truth.
What is unforgivable? Lies and Injustice.
Release Date: July 28, 2023
Director: Osezuah Elimihe
Stars: Timini Egbuson, Nancy Isime, Sunday Aaron, Moses Chukuwudibia, Mercy Isoyip, Jude Orhora, Joseph Momodu. Moses Nwosu, Osasu Esemuede, Linda Igwe, Alloysius Onyejegbu, Anthonia Okojie, Emeka Okoye, Kokoette Omoinyang and Ijeoma Richards.