“Strained” a compelling drama written, produced, and directed by Okechukwu Oku of OracleFilmsTV has now made its debut in cinemas. It features a talented cast, including Queen Nwokoye, Samuel Nnaibuike, Padita Agu, Tracey George, and Adaeze Onuigbo.
Set in the picturesque location of Enugu, the film revolves around the story of Ebere, portrayed by Tracey George. Ebere undergoes a poignant journey as she reluctantly reconnects with her estranged mother, brilliantly portrayed by Queen Nwokoye, upon her husband’s insistence, played by Samuel Nnaibuike.
The reason for this reunion is the arrival of a newborn, an event traditionally known as “Omugwo” in Igbo culture, where the mother of the couple provides postpartum care for the new mother. As Ebere grapples with complex emotions, the question arises: Why does she harbor ill feelings for her own mother? Will she permit her mother to stay and assist with the newborn? To unravel this emotional conundrum, you’ll have to experience the film in the cinema.
The cast members deliver exceptional performances, with Queen Nwokoye, in particular, shining in her role as Ebere’s mother. Her portrayal is nothing short of outstanding, adding depth and authenticity to the movie.
Thematic Preoccupation of the Movie
“Strained” is a captivating film that successfully balances the delicate themes of domestic violence and the humorous intricacies of mother-in-law and daughter-in-law dynamics. This Nigerian film, directed with finesse and sensitivity, delves into these contrasting aspects of life, offering a thought-provoking cinematic experience.
The film’s storyline is anchored in the aftermath of domestic violence, shedding light on the profound consequences it has on individuals and their families. Through authentic character development and superb performances, “Strained” immerses the audience in the painful realities faced by survivors. It unflinchingly portrays the emotional scars left behind, making it a poignant and eye-opening experience for viewers.
On the flip side, the film’s humour is derived from the age-old conflicts between mothers and daughters or mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law as it depicts the clash of wisdom that often unfolds between mothers and their daughters or daughters-in-law during the Omugwo tradition. During this time, the mother wishes to apply her traditional child-rearing expertise, while the contemporary daughter dismisses it as outdated and opposes its use on her child. This aspect of the story will resonate strongly with many Nigerian women, as it portrays a familiar and relatable family dynamic.
These moments are brought to life through witty dialogues and impeccable comic timing. The ensemble cast delivers standout performances, striking a perfect balance between drama and comedy. The chemistry among the characters, especially the two mothers, adds charm and relatability to the story.
Igbo Culture in the Movie
The movie beautifully showcased the rich Igbo culture through various elements. This cultural pride was prominently displayed, starting with Mama’s traditional attire from her first portrayal in the movie to the characters frequently switching from English to Igbo in their dialogues.
Additionally, the film featured frequent bursts of Igbo songs, adding a distinct flavor to the narrative. The skillful utilization of sound design, music, and lighting contributed significantly to the film’s overall impact.
Furthermore, the recurrent portrayal of Enugu’s reddish cityscape added depth to the movie, enhancing the authenticity of its setting.
Cinematography in “Strained”
The cinematography in “Strained” deserves special mention for its skillful depiction of both the intense and light-hearted moments in the story. The use of color and lighting effectively mirrors the emotional journey of the characters.
The camera work brilliantly captures the subtle expressions and non-verbal cues that add depth to the narrative. The juxtaposition of close-ups during intense scenes and wide shots during family gatherings beautifully conveys the film’s thematic duality.
“Strained” stands out as a film that explores the duality of life with grace. It takes you on an emotional rollercoaster, leaving you teary-eyed in one moment and bursting into laughter in the next. The film’s ability to seamlessly transition between these contrasting emotions is a testament to its excellent direction and screenplay.
It is a must-watch for those who appreciate a film that can educate and entertain in equal measure, offering a poignant and thought-provoking exploration of family dynamics, estrangement, and the intricacies of postpartum care in Igbo culture.
“Strained” is a drama that boasts commendable performances, impeccable production values, and a potent message regarding the aftermath of domestic violence. However, its storyline is commonplace for a cinematic experience as the sequence of events were just straight to the point. While it excels as a top-tier streaming option, it may not deliver the same impact on the big screen.
Nevertheless, due to its stellar acting and good production, I will rate it a 7/10