KFB Movie review: Everyone is talking about Emem Isong’s ‘Champagné’ but is it worth your time?

Nollywood movie, Champagne poster
When I watched this movie on Iroko TV last week, I decided that I wasn’t going to review it. I didn’t want to do a back-to-back harsh movie review but since I couldn’t see another for today (had a busy week), I had no choice than to bring this.

NB: If I were to review it, i would have been so harsh, so, enjoy this review by one Samond Biobaku (…it kinda voices out my opinion of the movie…the writer only didn’t add that the movie was super-boring)

I have never had a soft spot for Nigerian thrillers especially
romantic thrillers and the reason is not far-fetched – On more than a
few occasions, my expectations in terms of composition, strength of
conviction and creativity have been repeatedly and monumentally dashed –
On this radar, the movie, ‘Champagne,’ does not stray too far off.

As expected, the story grips the highway of a saccharine-littered
storyline that falls, stumbles, trips, takes flight, trips again, breaks
down and somehow, manages to hurl its bulky frame across the
finish-line where conflicts are ultimately resolved.

When I received the invite to see the official screening and premiere
of the movie, ‘Champagne,’ which had Majid Michel, Alex Ekubo and South
African actress, Rosemary Zimu forming the strength of its cast at the
Silverbird Cinema sitting within the Silverbird Galleria in Victoria
Island, Lagos, I picked up a neat duster, wiped my mental notepad clean
and momentarily got rid of all previous euphoric and not-so euphoric
moments the big screen had thrown up in the past. It was a new flick and
it deserved an objective, unbiased and fresh pair of eyes and mind –
That was precisely what it got.

If you tagged this one a familiar and predictable story, then you
have stepped forward on a right footing as Emem Isong’s launch-pad into
the waters of movie directing delivers a somewhat shocking and
unexpected result – one that does more harm than good to her previous
rating as a Nollywood producer.

In this movie, Emem clearly struggles with creative consistency – For
a movie that centres on the life of a young couple with a penchant for
frequently veering into romantic affairs outside the walls of wedlock,
the impressive script is not convincingly interpreted by characters
saddled with the momentous task.

Street begging by Almajiris no longer allowed!

Tare, played by Alex Ekubo attends an exhibition at an art gallery
and is instantly captured as an unrepentant flirt with a knack for using
what he has (good looks, charm and smooth talk) to get what he wants
(the variety that comes with having multiple s*xual partners and more
importantly, financial rewards and other perks like the car he received
from his rich and ‘highly connected’ sugar mummy).
There were other ways of depicting the life of a nympho but Emem opts
for one that leaves the movie opening like a slightly diluted X-rated
flick and things get worse upon the realization that the overall audio
quality dances recklessly on the railings of a low budget movie despite
being shot in South Africa and United States.

Majid’s opening scene leaves much to be desired – from the lighting
to the shallow conversation and this rolls into a plot, so loose, it
eventually becomes painfully disjointed.
Like Hercules in ‘Troy,’ Alex is positioned as a self-destructive machine with a human body and a beating heart.

Alex is presently rated as one of Africa’s best dressed actors but
this does not necessarily translate into terrific acting and the more he
tried to force out good acting, the more visible his deficiencies
became through the course of the movie.

The scene where Tare visits Vanessa after he summons enough courage
to bare his mind to the rich sugar mummy is as relevant to the movie as
an assault rifle is to a professional footballer expected to score goals
– irrelevant and grossly inapt!

The overall suspense level of the movie forms a golden slap on the
face of all creative minds and threatens the balance of the movie right
from the opening scene till the point when the antagonist is forced to
lick his wound.
Majid fumbles in the first two scenes he appears in but guess what?
In the third scene, the Ghanaian actor flips the page and subsequently
reaffirms a firm control over his lines, delivery and cocky nature.
One of the best things in the movie is the character named
‘Champagne;’ her acting, her facial expressions, her body language, her
interpretation of the role of a frustrated wife and her believable

When Majid appears in the movie the fourth time, the lighting isn’t
any different from the first; dark dull and uninspiring save his
well-crafted lines.
Why does Champagne’s face suddenly appear devoid of the pimples we
saw while Majid (Douglas) had his first date with her? Emem must
understand that you don’t present the face of a sun-beaten job-seeker in
one scene yet appear like a model in a space of not more than a hour –
not believable.
Alex simply isn’t a particularly likable character in this movie – one of the bitter truths to admit.
Midway into the movie, the feeling that you could walk out of the
cinema hall and ask a friend to tell you what happened afterwards proved
a realistic option.

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The lines: “It was supposed to be just s*x and nothing more…” and “It
is just s*x; in another town” was a well applauded line and one well
‘Champagne’ reminds us that most times, a taste/trial plus a tad of
persistence is all it takes to move from being a saint to becoming an
angel with horns, black wings and a poisoned heart – Sometimes, once the
line is crossed, there’s no going back.

When Tare and Champagne begin to drift apart, we are confronted with
the typical story of love gone sour and a sudden realisation that all
might be lost.
Majid’s psychotic side blooms shortly after his heart is flushed down
the drain of deceit and anguish and yet again, he delivers a pristine
class of acting that has seen him celebrated over and over again.
The choreography of the fight scene was at best, laughable – abysmally foreseeable and overtly ‘boring.’

For me, the best thing about the movie is the name of the central
character, ‘Champagne’ and the life the drama of her name breathes
throughout the course of the movie; creatively remarkable with a dose of
freshness at all times.

Using one of my biggest parameters of assessing a film’s success
gauge, I asked the same question I asked myself when I saw Chineze
Anyaene’s 107-minute cinematic project… ‘Would you like to see this
movie again?’ A simple question yet one whose response held grave
consequences for whichever movie formed the heart of the discourse.
Unfortunately, Emem Isong’s ‘Champagne’ drew a resounding negative.


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