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Fifty on Fleek: Africa’s Netflix Takeover

In Fifty, we meet a highly successful, chic power player whose daughter hates her; a super-Christian party-planner keeping a deadly secret from a husband who adores her; a 49-year-old board chair who wants no children

So I go cuddle up with Netflix on a cold Friday night. I’m looking for something familiar. Something in which I can see myself reflected, but something I can sink my teeth into. I had resisted watching Fifty for weeks, eyeballing the film from a distance, thinking it was possibly the “usual Nollywood.” The artwork was more attractive than the usual, and I saw Nse Ikpe Etim, so I was a little curious. But then I said, what do I want with a movie about fifty-year-old women? Here I am in my late late late 29s still trying to figure out the grown-up thing…this is going to be boring I thought.

 

But that fateful Friday night, something in me just wanted to watch Fifty, so I did. The first thing that captured me was the shots of the Lagos landscape. I’ve always been a sucker for beauty, and in the hands of the right director, the Lagos landscape is second to none.  I don’t need to comment on the cinematography because Nollywood has come up…world class cinematography is becoming the norm. The next thing that got me was the texture of the characters. Right away we meet a highly successful, chic power player whose daughter hates her; a super-Christian party-planner keeping a deadly secret from a husband who adores her; a 49-year-old board chair who wants no children and a TV star who is equal parts mean-girl and philanthropist.

 

The most striking thing about the film was it’s tangible struggle with child molestation and the cultural rules that force this life-altering tragedy—and the value of women—into the recesses of our country’s mind. The love story that resulted from a public extra-marital affair, was so out of the norm it was almost impossible to forget.

 

I waited for something to turn me off, but instead I was enthralled. It wasn’t until the film was over and I saw Biyi Bandele in the credits as director that I understood why I had loved it. The mix of real characters and gravely serious societal issues against a backdrop of Nigeria’s nouveaux-riche, authentic Nigerian art, fashion, music, jaw-dropping cameos and the beauty of Lagos was classic Biyi.

 

The film wasn’t perfect, but it was just right.

Lolade Siyonbola
Lolade is an author, techie and serial entrepreneur. She is an MA candidate at Yale University where she is pursuing research on immigration, cultural identity and social health.
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