BFI London Film Festival Report: Relentless

Dir: Andy Amadi Okoroafor

Country: Nigeria

No Cert, 92 mins

I went with a friend to this screening blind, having no idea what to expect. I liked the write-up on the BFI’s website, and, naively perhaps, I presumed that the film would have to be of some quality to have been selected for such a prestigious festival in the first place. I was amazed to find that this was the most agonizingly boring film I’ve seen since Last Days by Gus Van Sant. The only thing that made this worse was that it was impossible to walk out. The director, a loveable looking man, introduced the film with a warm, tearful speech. “Thank you so much,” he sobbed, “It is such an honour to be here in London.” He then came and sat behind me, and I simply did not have the heart to leave. But, seemingly, I do have the heart to slag it off on the internet. Nice.

The film tells the story of Obi, a Nigerian peacekeeping soldier working in Sierra Leone. His life is shattered when his true love, Blessing is shot by child soldiers. One year later, he is back in Lagos trying to re-establish his life whilst working for a private security company. One night at work, he finds a wounded high-class prostitute left for dead, and manages to save her life…

I was intrigued by the first ten minutes of the film, as it begins with lively Nigerian hip-hop, and the footage of Lagos is atmospheric. As soon as the dialogue begins, with acting levels on a par with a Latin American daytime soap-opera, I knew I was in for an absolute howler. Long, unnecessary conversations are interspersed with seemingly endless panning shots of out-of-focus streetlights. At one stage the camera sits on the motorway for about a minute and a half. There are some moments of relief when various bands perform live in bars where the “action” is taking place. We get a flavour of what Lagos’ music scene might be like, but even these scenes feel like the director is just buying time so he can fill the required length to call it a feature. The plot is utterly incoherent, and I rapidly stopped bothering to follow it. The three moments of drama all take place off screen. “Relentless” is a very apt title, as its’ 92 minutes felt like an eternity, during which I could feel myself physically ageing. I have never seen so many mobile phones glowing in a cinema auditorium as people frustratedly checked to see how much longer they had to sit through this apalling mess of a movie.


Theatrical trailer:

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