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Behind Closed Doors (2005)



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Credited cast:
Stella Damasus ... (as Stella Damasus-Aboderin)
Desmond Elliot
Patience Ozokwor


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Release Date:

2005 (Nigeria)  »

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Followed by Behind Closed Doors 2 (2005) See more »

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Lots of Potential. . .
27 February 2007 | by See all my reviews

If you are sterile and want a child, would you allow your brother to sleep with your wife to get it? This is the central question raised (and answered) by this film, which is Part 1 of a three-part series.

The nicest thing I can say about it is that it plays like a decent student film: In the blocking, acting and lack of camera movement, it reminds me of the early Tyler Perry efforts where I felt like someone stuck a camera in the audience and filmed a play. It shows a LOT of promise and also a LOT of room for improvement.

If I were the Director, I would work on : 1) Sound Design – there were a lot of scenes where characters talk to each other and the background noise changes. I kept getting distracted while trying to listen to what the characters were saying. . . and speaking of saying, 2) Writing – Do Nigerians really talk like this? There's a LOT of needless exposition (like in the scene where Oasis mentions that he is sterile, and then his wife re-states that he is sterile and then later in the movie his brother Phil re-states that he is sterile, etc, etc) and a lot of characters re-stating the same thing over and over. I was boggled when I found out Isong, who wrote and produced, is a woman as I had chalked up the idiosyncracies in the conversations to a male point of view of how women interact. Rule of thumb in movies - SHOW, don't tell. If you want to tell, make a radio play.

3) Editing – I feel like I watched the Director's Cut of the movie rather than the theatrical release. Case in point: Why did we have to see the ENTIRE song at the beginning of the movie? I understand Imasuen wanted to establish she was a singer but a) that wasn't necessary to the plot and b) a much shorter version of the song would have sufficed and c) you could have eliminated her having trouble with her bandmates and not hurt the movie, since it had very little to do with the overarching plot. There was also a scene with two elders talking outside of a church. WHY was it in the movie? (another point about Sound Design, it would have been better to re-do the song in the studio and synch it in editing or simply re-do the audio to eliminate the muddy from-the-camera-mic sound during the song).

4) Blocking – watch some American films or even American Soap Operas and see how they introduce a scene and then cut into it to create action and movement. There were some camera shots (i.e. the wide shot of the models at the beginning) that were just plain boring and went on too long. There were shots where characters talked to each other and the camera stayed in a long medium shot rather than moving in on the faces. It almost seemed as if the scenes were shot the way they were because that's where the electricity for the camera was, so that's where they set it up.

Maybe Nigerian film audiences need their plots spoon-fed and don't mind static cameras and bad sound and I'm willing to concede that I might have lost some things in translation, but overall, I found it laborious to sit through and the acting laughable at parts. However, I see lots of room for improvement and foresee a glorious international future for Nigerian movies.

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